Tuesday, 31 December 2013 17:49

Leave It Behind: A Different Approach to New Year's Resolutions

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 Family Storytelling, Resolutions, New YearI'm not a fan of New Year's Resolutions.  There, I said it out loud.

That's not to say I don't like goals – I just think we ought to be setting them, working towards them, accomplishing them, re-evaluating them all year long. Weekly, at least, I take a formal pause for a sacred moment and assess what needs to be resolved and where I can do better. A lot of people I know do the same.

 

But what I am a fan of, is moving from the end of one year to another, deciding what I will leave behind. Examining the change of the last digit or two when writing the year, gives me a reason to think long and hard about things. I like the opportunity to decide what baggage is just too much, and what I won't take in to the new year. Things like: 

 

Regrets

Grudges

Mistakes

Fears

Dreams

 

Regrets

That time I cut someone off, said something wrong, ignored a plea for help, spent too much time at work – regrets can wake me up in the middle of the night and refuse to let me go back to sleep. Over a year they can really pile up, being the imperfect soul that I am. There are regrets that inspire me to do better, and then there's regrets that choke a deep breath. If you have one like that – write it down, turn it over to someone greater than us all, and leave it behind.

Grudges

Think of one person you can forgive, and just wipe the slate clean. Maybe that person hasn't apologized, maybe that person doesn't even know they offended or hurt you. Think, what grudge is my favorite? Leave it behind.

Mistakes

We all make them. That sounds cliché, but somehow we forget that reality and think we should be above them. Maybe you yelled or were impatient with your children. Maybe you really messed up at work, maybe you ate a whole piece of chocolate cake when you intended to only have a bite. Maybe you missed a friend's special day. Forgive yourself, ask forgiveness from others, fix what is within your power to do. Now, leave it behind.

Fears

I read a book years and years ago. I don't remember much about it, except the title. The title sticks with me and I say it almost daily – Feel the fear and DO IT ANYWAY! We are all afraid – afraid of rejection, failure, embarrassment, pain, the unknown. If you were someone who didn't feel the fear of those things what kind of weirdo, unfeeling person would you be? So go ahead, feel the fear then leave it behind, and do the thing anyway.

Dreams

That makes me sound like a quitter, doesn't it. Let go of dreams? Give up on them? Well, yes actually. Some dreams are dumb and holding you back. And maybe you conjured up the dream when you didn't know what you know now. Maybe there have been some changes that make that dream impossible and dwelling on it is only making you resent the life you have. Who says you have to hold on to the dream – if its holding you back, keeping you from making wonderful new ones – leave it behind.

What we do at our house on New Year's Day is write some of these on a piece of paper. It's private, nobody needs to see it. We write down the things that we will leave behind, things that scare us, stifle us, keep us from growing – then we toss them all in a bowl (or fire pit) and we burn them. It feels good – we feel resolved. So whether its New Year's Day or just a New Day – write down what you're ready to leave behind and burn it to ashes so something new can grow.

 

Photo credit – Ryan Houston. This was taken near my home where we had an entire mountainside burn one year ago.

 

After all, it's your story – just turn the page and start a fresh one.  What will you leave behind to start a new story?  Check out our Family Yearbook Story Starter.

Last modified on Friday, 31 January 2014 23:16
Carol Rice

I grew up in a home rich with family heritage. My mom loved genealogy and knew how to breathe life into dusty documents and color to faded black and white photos - my mom told me stories.

As a grown woman with five children of my own, I've tried to do the same. For years I did it through scrapbooking. But it didn't take long to realize that it wasn't my artistic skills my children really cared about. They never stopped on a page and said, "Mom, you matched that paper to my shirt - perfectly!" Nope. What they did say as they leaned across my lap, pointing at photos is, "Tell me the story!" "Tell me mom about the day I was born... Tell me mom about the day I cried when everyone sang me happy birthday... Tell me mom about my grandma and her garden..."

Don't worry if you haven't done it forever, just start today. The consistency and cumulative effect of one good question - just sharing one story a day, adds up.

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