A Deliciously Selfish Goal for the New Year

Happy New Year GraphicI love the start of a new year.

It screams possibilities. It oozes with adventure. It sizzles with freshness as we renew priorities and set a course for the year.

I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions, but I am one to make goals. What’s the difference? Most likely just semantics. But to me goals feel weightier and more lasting than resolutions.

Goals allow me to focus on what’s important in my life. Without them I tend to wander through days and even weeks without paying much attention to what I’m doing.

Perhaps because I lost my dad at an early age, I learned quickly that life is short. With that niggling notion always kicking around in my mind, often pushing my motivation buttons, I have a hard time forgiving myself if I bump along in a stupor.

This year’s goals keep me focused on giving back, trying new things, and completing projects–all the while maintaining balance between family, fitness and fun. I won’t bore you with the details of how I plan to reach these goals, or even what they mean, but I will share with you one of my all-time favorite New Year’s goals.

It’s one I accomplished two or three years ago, and one that might surprise you in its simplicity. It involved little more than time and thought.

Star GraphicI created a list of the most important people in my life, then I sat down and wrote a letter to each person, telling him or her why he or she meant so much to me.

My brothers were at the top of my list, as were several dear friends and other family members, including my husband and daughter.

With a family that’s often in perpetual motion, the hardest part was carving out quiet time to think. Once I did though, I picked out pretty stationery, settled down with a colossal cup of coffee, and spilled my heart onto the pages.

Each letter took several hours as I thought about how the recipient had impacted my life. My heart sang as I wrote my words, recalling each person’s unique characteristics and how he or she made me feel. I often laughed out loud or welled up with tears remembering funny or warm memories and all the sweetness that person had added to my life.

While my goal was intended to be “other focused,” it ended up being one of the most deliciously selfish goals I ever made because it gratified me in ways I never imagined.

The mere act of consciously focusing on each person made me appreciate how obscenely lucky I was to have that individual in my life; and it allowed me to gush and celebrate what is beautiful and unique about each one—something I’ve never been good at doing in person.

It took me an entire year to write letters to each of the 15 people on my list, but it made me happy in the extreme.

To this day it still makes me smile, especially when I imagine each person going to the mailbox, opening the letter, then instantly being wrapped in a warm, deserving blanket of appreciation. And thinking back to the teary return phone calls and heartfelt emails, telling me how much my letter meant to them, is like an exquisite gift that sits on a permanent shelf in my memory.

Here’s the kicker. I’m glad I didn’t wait.

Two of the special people I wrote letters to have since passed away. While I miss them both, it eases the pain of their loss knowing that no words were left unsaid; they knew without a doubt when they left this world, they had made a difference in somebody’s life.

After all, what better goal is there in life than that?

Star Graphic

30 thoughts on “A Deliciously Selfish Goal for the New Year

  1. Becky, your words and ideas always amaze me. You should be out there in print letting the world enjoy your uniqueness. Love your “niggling notion.” Mind if I cope your phrase one day?

    What an amazing idea, and you do it every year! I have a question . . . do you write the same 15 people each year, or 15 different people? I, too, am going to start my own list. And each time I sit to write, I’ll think of you and the special impact you’re making on this world.

    Happy New Year, Becky. May it be filled with good health, much love and uncommon success.

    • Nancy, you are always filled with kind words. Thank you. And of course, borrow away!! I don’t actually do this every year. I did it one year, but it has stayed with me ever since. I’m glad this simple little idea has inspired you! Happy New Year to you!

  2. Truly a lovely idea. I feel it’s something I should undertake, but it’s a bit daunting. I’m glad to hear that it took you a whole year to do. I think I would start with my brother, too. Mental note to also add completing projects and fitness to my own 2012 year list, but I won’t hold my breath. Shimmer away.

  3. When I was a teenager, I did the same thing for each family member. I still remember my sister, who has since passed away, leaning over my other sister’s shoulder (her twin, blind and disabled), reading the words I had written for each of them. There were tears. I don’t remember what I wrote, but I’ll never forget how moved I was by the writing and the giving of them. Thank you for reminding me of my own passion for sharing in this way. I’m going to do more of this in 2012, starting right now!

    • Wow, Britton, doing that as a teenager says a lot about you. How wonderful that your sisters knew at an early age what they meant to you. I’m glad this post rekindled your joy of connecting in this way. Have a wonderful new year!

  4. Thanks, Becky! I love this idea and think we should do this for Christmas presents instead of “stuff.”
    I have a HS English teacher I never thanked and he needs a letter.
    As for being Oprah-ish, no, you’re being sincere as Oprah is when she’s at her best.
    Have a great 2012!

    • I love that idea of exchanging letters instead of “things.” And I’m so happy for your HS English teacher. I can think of no better gift for a teacher than a letter of gratitude. Enjoy your project and have a wonderful year!

  5. I love that idea. I had someone close die in the past month and so your blog was particularly relevant for me. As always thanks Becky. And also Thanks soooo much for your generous support of my project. SO great. IT will go a long way in Africa.

    • I’m glad this post resonated with you. So sorry for your loss.

      And you are welcome for our contribution to your bag project in Africa. We’re behind you all the way! I can’t wait to hear how your next trip goes in January! You are a great inspiration to many people!

  6. What a wonderful resolution, Becky! Not only will it be meaningful to the recipient, but it will also help remind the writer how that person has made a difference to her – particularly helpful when we lost sight of the fact over a disagreement, conflict, emotional wound, etc.

    • It was definitely meaningful to me to be able to celebrate each person, and from the responses I received back, I could tell it was meaningful to each recipient to be told how much he or she was/is appreciated. I think you are right about healing emotional wounds too. It could be a very powerful too for that.

  7. This is beautiful, Becky – I’m definitely a fan of writing gratitude letters! Best wishes to you and yours for a joyous new year full of much love, warmth, and well-being.

  8. What a nice Idea Becky. I liked it a lot. There is nothing better than making a person feel, how much he/she means to that person. It’s something different but really a great thing to do.
    Wish you, Jeffrey & your family a very Happy & Prosperous New year. :)

    • When I wrote this post, I was concerned that it might sound a little too “Oprah-ish,” but I’m smiling big knowing it might inspire you to write to your loved ones. I’m sure they’ll be bowled over, especially with your gift of words.

      Happy New Year to you, Ann!

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