Christmas is tomorrow, yet I hear the murmurings of New Year’s Resolutions beginning.
Next year I’ll be more organized. I’ll start my own business. 2019 will be the year of professional growth. Next year, I will eat healthy. In 2019, I will stay in contact with people more. I’ll use social media less.
As I reflect on 2018, and look toward the new year, I ponder resolutions, and wonder why we need them. The resolution is a fresh start to a new year. Yet, why do we need a new year to make a commitment to ourselves? Here’s why I ask. In October of this year, my uncle passed. Now, we all have instant reactions when we hear of a loss, and I write this blog not because of the loss, but because of our reactions when those that we cherish are no longer with us. In a way, it’s like a new year’s resolution.
My uncle passed this year. I personally don’t do well with any type of death. I become a ball of emotions and tears well up instantaneously. Yet, if I’m honest, I should disclose that I didn’t know my uncle very well. He lived in Texas and that side of the family, well, we never got together as much. I went to the funeral to support my dad. The two had a brotherly love and I learned more about my uncle at his eulogy, than any family interaction could have ever provided.
The memorial was standing room only. To keep it on “Tom Time” as my uncle was huge on time elements (to this our DNA proves relation as I’m huge on time organization myself) the long list of those who wished to speak on his behalf and how he impacted their lives became too long to complete before the end of the service. Oh my goodness the stories, the words of tribute; the impact this man had on people’s lives was incredible. On social media, people proclaimed that he had saved Pakistan. PAKISTAN!!!! And one person who stood before the crowd communicated, “he had an ability to see people not for what they were, but for what they could be.” Those words continue to impact me. This was a life lived of purpose. Why do we need a loss or a new year’s resolution to make a change or a commitment to ourselves?
In these moments whether of loss, or an adrenaline rush to avoid catastrophe, a celebration of life, or planning for the new year, we often reflect and gain moments of insight and clarity. The light bulb pops on and the a-ha moment looms. We find our purpose and eagerly proclaim our objective with passion and unknown tenacity to the world.
I’ll think twice before I judge.
I will make certain I stay in touch with you more frequently.
I will take more time to be with my kids.
I’ll tell my sister sorry.
I’ll cherish the little moments.
I’ll call my mom and just listen.
I’ll tell my dad I love him.
But over time, it dwindles. The emotional rush fizzles. The sense of urgency and passion and movement stop. Like a poorly planned new year’s resolution, it fades. We don’t stay in touch. We judge. We’re too busy for the little moments. We don’t call. We forget to say I love you.
I call this the Fresh Paint Smell effect. My husband prefers new carpet smell. So whichever your preference, the analogy works both ways. Here’s how it works. You paint a room. It’s clean and organized. You can smell the fresh paint. You love it. You feel the happiness when you walk in. Two days later, it’s still a fresh room, but the new paint smell has faded and the excitement of it has passed. Over a week or so, it’s the room we love, but the newness is fading. A month or so passes, and it’s just another room in the house.
It happens with paint and new carpet. It happens after our life changing moments. It happens every January 31st, or for some, earlier in the month.
How do we keep these insights effervescent? How do we sustain the momentum and clarity found? My suggestion is simple. Decide and MOVE! Stop waiting for the new year. Don’t wait for that life changing moment. Make a decision and move! Let every day be a resolution to yourself. Set a reminder on your phone. Place a quote in a visible spot so you see it every day. Change your mind set and find a way to make an impact on someone’s life every day. Don’t let yourself get comfortable. Live for someone other than yourself. Be the person that sees others not for what they are, but what they can be.
In loving memory of Tom Slone.