Happy New Year

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New Year’s resolutions don’t work for everyone. But for me, there is a strong pull to seize the opportunity for a fresh start and a clean slate. As I was preparing to embark on just such a round of slate-cleaning this week, I was reminded of some unfinished business.

Somewhere over the past couple of years, I developed the habit of jotting aspirational notes to myself as alarms in my iPhone. There, lurking alongside the jolting reminders that bleep and blurt at me throughout the day, I have planted these surreptitious directives that will (hopefully) tweak my unconscious as I scroll through my daily tasks and obligations. So it seemed a good idea, before blazing a whole new agenda, to take a final look at my “messages in a bottle” from the past year.

8:20 AM - Shut up & listen. Stop pushing. Have faith.

This one’s been here for years—ever since the summer I put my 12-year old son in the goal to take shots from the girl’s soccer team at my university. I mean, he wanted to be a goalkeeper, so of course, I should help him “get some experience." The experience he wound up with was a hairline fracture in his wrist. I’d like to think I haven’t done anything so stupid since then, but just in case, this parenting mantra is definitely not going anywhere in 2019. Maybe ever.


8:35 AM - Consider the possibility of not worrying about the future.

Self-explanatory. Still necessary. In fact, I’m going turn the sound back on for this one.

8:45 AM - It's OK Darrell, there are others who are well-equipped and well-prepared to do this task. You can focus on your own activities.

This is a memo to the part of me that always wants to say yes when presented with a request. It is my personal reminder that no one is indispensable. And sometimes the best thing I can do for the world is to put my head down and take care of my own business. Amazingly, others can and do step up to the plate.

3:00 PM - How do I eliminate the guilt and anxiety of not having things done?

Still working on the answer to this one. The “life is a journey not a destination” quote doesn’t seem to cut it for me. More often than not it feels truer that “life is a test that you are very much in danger of not finishing, and a big fat F is right around the corner if you don’t get to work RIGHT NOW!” The good news, however, is sometime in 2018 I came across the next thought on my list.

6:30 PM - Failure file, "I have the opportunity" as a wake-up statement.

The idea that one of the intrinsic requirements for both success and personal growth is the willingness to fail is not new to me. But the concept of having a "Failure File,” was a helpful twist. The idea that the inevitable failures, and the lessons learned thereby, could be something to be as proud of as one's successes has some hope in it. Thankfully 2018 has seen some progress in reframing my activities, not as tests, but as opportunities. Over time, slowly but surely, the “oh my God this is going to suck so badly,” is turning into “I have the opportunity—to explore, to learn, to grow, or at the very least, to add to my (illustrious and ever-expanding) failure file. 2019 could certainly be a banner year for that.

7:49 PM - Be myself more unabashedly.

I remember the day I put this one on the list. Short, sweet and powerful, it sits there waiting for me at the end of every evening. I don’t always notice it, but when I do, I’m reminded to look at the big picture, and drawn back to the aspiration that lies at the heart of any New Year’s resolution I might ever make.

Just Be Yourself.