The week between Christmas and New Year’s is different from other weeks. Work is slow, often slow enough to enjoy some reading, planning, thinking time. An excellent time to take a look at your plans for 2017. Most of my friends are grateful 2016 is about to be over.
Once more, I am not making New Year’s resolutions, for three simple reasons:
1. They are generally too big or too vague to succeed. (I want to eat a healthy diet; I want to lose 20 pounds, I want to have a better relationship with X.) Who can handle all that at once? Anything that requires refurbishing the kitchen on January 1 is not a good idea.
2. There are no how-to steps or plans to break the task from bigger to smaller steps. Nothing fails faster than a big plan with no small victories and check-in days. And resolutions are generally the bumper-sticker slogan type. Short, with a big impact. Sadly, with very little long-term support.
3. There is no support system. Unless you enroll a support system, your family and friends will not want you to change. When you change, they will also have to change, and they didn’t sign up for that. They will send you change-back messages until you cave and give up.
So what to think about for 2017? Start with things that worked well for you in 2016. Think about those skills you have that you developed as a child and are now really good at. You may have to ask a friend who can see you as you can’t see yourself.
I’ve always used humor as a coping mechanism. When I was little I figured out that if I could make it funny by writing it down, I could recover. This may be my way through 2017.
Think about what worked well in 2016. I know, I know, it was a tough year. But not every day was horrible. Look for some good memories: A relationship that went well. A success at work. A goal you met. Anything that worked out better than you thought.
Write it down. Describe it in detail. What did you do that made it work? Name your coping mechanism. Maybe it was resilience mechanism. Dig it out and celebrate your success. Continued success is built on previous, recognized, success.
Next, look at where you started in 2016 and how far you have come. Overcoming difficulties. Skirting tough times with grace. OK, without grace, but with persistence. Looking back to see how far you have come is a necessary step to keep moving ahead.
It’s tempting to think of the person you would like to be in 2017. Even more tempting to make it a whole new person. But it’s far more worthwhile spending your time finding yourself and being more of you than trying to be someone new.
—-Quinn McDonald is looking ahead to thinking her life was funnier than she imagined.