I 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.
I 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?