New Year, New You?

Photo by Tara Glaser on Unsplash

On January 1, I received following message:

“Happy New Year! I’ve decided I can’t manage much but my two goals are family exercise and music practice.”

So she bought a YMCA gym membership for her family to help them survive the Minnesota winter. Each year, she faces the same uphill, snow-filled battle, active kids in need of stimulation in a house in which they don’t quite fit.

The day after New Year’s, she wrote me again,

“We went to the gym. It feels so good to have a place to go. I feel like I’m getting to know again the person I was pre-kids.”

“You still are that person,” I wrote, “you just haven’t been accessing it.”

And she agreed.

The power to change is in you.

Or so I hear. It seems awfully simple, doesn’t it?

We have our will. We have our emotions as a guide. They act as indicator lights that something needs our intention; they motivate us; they are an important part of the process of overcoming obstacles. We have our intelligence to help us to reason and problem-solve those goals we want to put in place.

So as with every New Year’s column, let’s look at what’s missing.

What do you want?


What is preventing you from getting it?

“I always wanted to take cello lessons. Maybe when there is more time,” a woman told me. Then she shrugged her shoulders and acknowledged, “There’s never more time.”

Photo by V T on Unsplash

It helps to talk it through.

What are our excuses?

Some obstacles come from within. It may be a scheduling issue. It may be an issue of prioritizing ourselves over others. It may be a matter of letting the urgent demands or interruptions dictate our days rather than the important and less urgent ones.

Most enriching things will not be urgent, but they are important.

Changes to aid our health are not urgent, until they suddenly become so. But even then, after a time, the desire to eat this or drink that is stronger than the doctor’s orders.

We must make time for the things that are not urgent but are important.

The will to change may not be enough. We are nested in relationships, in an environment that may need some adjusting to help us reach our goals.

Talk it through again, only this time with those you live with, and problem-solve a way to make space for what you want to do.

I have been making the mistake of buying duplicate books at used book sales or antique shops. I don’t need three copies of “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.”

So I spoke to my spouse about a strange goal for Christmas break. My office is built into a detached garage, just across the porch, 21 feet away. But getting there and staying there uninterrupted without the children falling down a well is the challenge. To my husband, I shared my desire. I want to catalog my books. He shared his support.

Over break, each day when we had no plans, I let him know I was going and spent my hours in nerdful bliss, realizing the professional benefit this strange task would give me the next time I write a book or essay in need of formal citations. That added thought made the goal suddenly more important, to me, at least. “You’re a writer, after all,” my husband said.

  • Goals related to health
  • Goals related to enrichment
  • Goals related to organization

These may be the pivotal categories to consider this time of year. Do not fall for trends.

Look within you to listen to your desire for what is missing.

The longing is in us because there are things we are meant for. All work and no play, etc., etc. 

My next goal is, when I have the impulse to share something deep or poetic, to take to my notebook rather than my phone, to record the thought for me rather than send it out into the text messaging bliss. Who knows, there may be something at the end worth saving, editing and sharing.

What are your goals for 2023?

And how are you going to make them happen?

Photo by Isaac Smith on Unsplash
Previously published in the weekly column, “Here’s to the Good Life!” in the Hughson Chronicle & Denair Dispatch.