A New Year. A New You.
As the Holiday season comes to a close, it is time to take down the lights and decorations, time to put away the cookies and milk, and certainly time to take a moment to reflect back and ahead.
In mid-November, we grow excited by the day. We look at the calendars and see the many wonderful Holidays soon upon us, and look forward to time off, parties, and unwrapping gifts. As December approaches, the weather in many areas turns cooler, and stores are full of seasonal shoppers. We plan for parties, cook festive meals, and cherish time we can spend with those we care about the most. We continue to enjoy some downtime and New Year’s celebrations and more time with loved ones.
Throughout December, we are reminded of the infamous New Year’s resolutions. Many decide the New Year will be filled with more time at the gym, a stricter diet, and perhaps more savings in our bank accounts.
While your mileage may certainly vary on the events above, now is a great time to reflect on the past, the present, and the future.
Your past is likely a full story packed with both your finest and perhaps your darkest moments.
Some of life’s hardest lessons come simply from experience. When I first learned to ride a bike, I was so eager to ride without training wheels, that I convinced my Dad to take them off much earlier than he should. My first solo attempt was a complete disaster. I made it all of five yards before collapsing into an embarrassing pile in the driveway, and rose to cuts and scrapes everywhere. The physical pain was nothing compared to the internal drive to get it right. After several more attempts, I finally had it and travelled all around the neighborhood in joy.
Your experiences are what they are. They are cemented as part of your storyline, so please do not try to change them. Do not try to forget about them, regardless of how painful they may be. Instead, keep them present—in your rear view mirror and use them as motivation as you continue your day to day activities. Think back to how painful and difficult it was to get back on that bike. Turn your thoughts to present day.
While the thoughts of yesterday are present, the presence of today is absent. Too often, we try to rush through everything. We joke with co-workers, saying “I can’t wait until Friday,” when it is only Tuesday afternoon. We count the time down for our next activity, and worry about a project that is due in ten days. We procrastinate, delay activities, and make excuses upon excuses to delay living in the present.
While focusing on the present, think back to your past. Think back to your toughest and most challenging work assignment or deployment. Now ask yourself this question: What were the criteria that got you through that situation? Your answers may range from hard work to focus to dedication and beyond. Perhaps some luck was involved, and that is just fine. I can bet you a paycheck that at your moment frozen in time, that you were absolutely focused on the present. While on convoy ops in a dangerous combat zone, you weren’t thinking about Friday, were you? You were laser focused on your situation at hand.
Live in the present day. Spend time with those you care about the most. Quit worrying about the next deadline, and when “Friday” will get here. Believe in this: it will all get here soon enough.
While looking at your past and staying in the present, it is certainly important to look into the crystal ball and what lies ahead this coming year and beyond. While thinking of your future, if you are simply focused on goals and checking items off a list, you may be missing out on opportunities. Instead, focus back to your previous accomplishments and how they can continue to shape you physically, mentally, and emotionally moving forward.
Your future does not end with some traditional New Years resolution. Instead, it continues through continuous professional learning, a constant exercise program, and more.
To veterans near and far, and to those serving in remote locations across the globe, warm thoughts and well wishes to you this year. Skip your New Year’s resolutions, and instead take a few moments to reflect on the past, present, and future. Do this often. Celebrate life’s accomplishments, regardless of how minor you think they are. Stay focused on the present day while continuously looking to the future.
Look out for one another, and remember it’s always a New Year and a New You!
By: Geoffrey Phillips
Mr. Phillips is an IT specialist and professional policy writer / content editor; a non-starving writer always in search of opportunities; a USAF veteran; and a devote Church Elder and family man. His passion is in the pen and the people; he absolutely loves to assist transitioning veterans, and finds himself at peace when he is doing some sort of writing.