Viewpoint: Instead of making vague resolutions, reflect and live with intention and purpose in the new year

Posted at 11:05 PM on Dec 30, 2018



Every year I take stock of the previous year and make resolutions, most of which are non-specific (“I will be a kinder person”), unreachable for me (“I will not be late this year”), or quickly forgotten (“I will not eat sweets in 2019”).

Life happens, and in the busyness of each day, resolutions quickly get lost in the daily shuffle. This coming year, I want to be more intentional by making small goals to accomplish each week.

As Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney once said, they key to living a successful and satisfying life is to “do common things in an uncommon way.”

One way to live more intentionally is to create a small box or jar filled with 52 index cards that detail specific and do-able experiences, tasks, or actions that you can take that will make your life or the lives of those you care about richer in the ways that truly matter.

The key is to make each action possible to accomplish in a week and realistically account for your life responsibilities and obligations. They do not have to be big tasks but ones that will make your small corner of the world a little brighter and kinder.

Examples could be reconnecting with an old friend, doing a chore for an elderly neighbor, taking a class to develop or improve a skill or talent (i.e. Mitchell Community College’s day-long or evening continuing education classes, online classes at Craftsy), helping a child start a scrapbook, visiting a local park for a hike or a picnic to reconnect with nature and your family or friends, writing a letter to someone about how they positively impacted your life, or babysitting for a single mom or dad or a couple to give the precious gift of a few free hours.

Pick a slip each Sunday and come up with a plan to make that selection happen in the coming week. After completing the selection, throw each card in a second container with a note of how the mission was accomplished and how it affected yourself or others.

At the end of 2019, you will be able to actually see the differences you have made in your life and the lives of others and create perhaps a more ambitious set for 2020.

Another way to approach the new year is to create a memory journal. Pick one day when you can sit and reflect on the last week, recording memories, victories, lessons learned, and disappointments and how to overcome or grow from them.

Making a commitment to unplug from life and technology each day, even for five minutes, can also help you live more purposely. You have to be a willing participant to change and grow -- it will not happen without time to reflect on where you have been, where you are, and where you want to go with your life.

Posting a photograph or two, weekly quotes, or special religious verse to your bathroom mirror can also help you focus on creating the day you want it to be as you get ready each morning.

We should also remember that our environment impacts our choices. Placing ourselves with people and in situations that will enrich our lives through connecting and helping others is important to find contentment and fulfillment.

Removing ourselves from unnecessary stress, gossip, and drama is essential to stay focused on the life we want to live and not get distracted from being the person we want to be. If we act positively and de-escalate drama at home or work, we will create more positive situations and attract encouraging rather than discouraging people.

Sometimes drama emanates from our reactions to others. Before we react, we need to consider: “Does this really matter, or am I just trying to be right?” If we listen, try to understand others’ points of view, and see differences as the spice and variety of life, we can accept each other as unique individuals who can disagree without being disagreeable.

Also, when you do have an issue with someone, go straight to them to talk about it and resolve it in a calm and productive way. Remember, no one else needs to know about the issue if they are not involved. Tearing someone else down does not build you up in the eyes of others -- or yourself.

Mother Teresa, in her book “The Joy in Loving: A Guide to Daily Living,” advises us to speak as little as possible of one's self, to mind one's own business, and to pass over the mistakes of others so they will be kinder and forgiving to us when we inevitably make our own.

Remember, we have the power of choice to give our lives meaning, to impact the world around us in small ways each day to make each day better for ourselves and others. As Winston Churchill wisely said, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”

Here’s to 2019 -- commit to become the best version of yourself and build your vision into reality in the new year!

Debbie Page is a writer for Statesville Free News. Readers may email her at

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