The week between Christmas and New Year's Day has always been one of my favorite times of the year. The hustle and bustle of Christmas is past, and the resolutions of the New Year have not yet kicked in, so the expectations and requirements are few.
Growing up, this week was part of Christmas break from school. During college, it was the time to relax after exams and before the start of a fresh semester. As a young professional, it was the time to get my desk and files organized while no one was around.
As a mother of two middle schoolers, I'm looking forward to the unstructured time to sleep in, relax and visit with family and friends. It's the time of year when deadlines don't exist, planning for the future is put on hold and being, rather than doing, is the point of existence.
Most years, during this time of the year, I reflect back on the year that is coming to a close — what was good and bad about it — what happened, how did it turn out. Then I turn to the year to come — what are my hopes and dreams, what goals do I want to set.
Reading over my column from the beginning of this year, "10 Ways to Start the New Year Fresh," I realized that this reflection and planning has not produced any tangible results, at least not this past year.
The 10 ways from the beginning-of-the-year column were:
1. What's past is past. Wipe all the disappointments of 2012 from your mind. Then do this again every month, every week, every morning.
2. Define success.
3. Think about long-term success, not short-term success. Write your obituary. What do you want said about you when you die?
4. Define what you can do in the coming year that will build a foundation to achieve your long-term goals.
5. Survey the terrain. What are the strengths and weaknesses of your position?
6. Take inventory of available talent and supplies. What are the assets available to be used, and are there any alliances to be made that might help you reach those goals?
7. Break your annual goal into sub-goals that can be completed in individual months.
8. Translate the monthly goals into daily activities.
9. Develop ongoing amnesia. A large part of life is about momentum. Positive momentum should be amplified and reinforced.
10. Enjoy life. Life is not about the accomplishments; it's about the relationships that we make along the way.
Numbers four through eight, I failed dramatically this year. What I planned to accomplish and what I actually accomplished had little in common. Instead, I buried my mother, sold her house and completed numerous hours of paperwork to wrap up her affairs.
As life is about relationships more than accomplishments (item 10), I take great solace in the time I spent and my relationship with my mother. She is with me in spirit, even though her body is now gone. Over Christmas, my family shared many joyful stories about her life and her love of her family.
Thanks to number nine, I can forget my failures. Instead, I can celebrate my successes and continue to move forward. My version of success focuses on my relationship with God, family, friends, and then the community at large. Many of these relationships were strengthened during the year with friends dropping off food, sending notes of encouragement, and simply hugging me when we ran into each other.
The older I've become, the more I've come to understand that much of life happens without my input, and my choice is often how to respond to what is happening, rather than how to initiate action.
So for the year to come — amnesia and relationships it is!
Jackie Gingrich Cushman is the co-author, along with her father, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, of the book "5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours." Read more reports from Jackie Gingrich Cushman — Click Here Now.
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