“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.”
— Edith Lovejoy Pierce
“Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.”
— Oprah Winfrey
“New Year’s Day – Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving the road to hell with them as usual.”
— Mark Twain
Yes, as you can tell from the three quotations above, I’m still on my New Year’s commentaries. I picked a poet, Edith Lovejoy Pierce, to say it metaphorically, Oprah to say it succinctly, and Mark Twain to say it in his wonderfully ironic way. No matter how you say it, we all look upon the turning of a New Year as a time for a fresh start.
That’s a good thing. We need to remind ourselves, on a regular basis, to stop and look at what’s not working, what’s harming and what would be better. And, to some extent, we can look ahead a year’s time to imagine what it would be like at the end of that year if we were able to accomplish certain goals. We can make some “broad stroke” plans to help us organize those goals and set them in motion.
However, we have to actually live our lives one day at a time. (Well, to be accurate, we can only live each moment, but that’s a different, more philosophical article.) Long-term planning and goal-setting are like battle plans. Just as battle plans don’t survive the first contact, your cherished goals and schedules don’t survive the first day. An amazing amount of change occurs in a single day. Once you start focusing on a day at time, you’ll notice how much change really happens.
If you try to design a whole year, you will be disappointed every day. Design a day at a time that is flexible and adaptable to your broad goals and plans. At the end of each week, review how you’re doing and see how to better adapt each day.
Sure, you have to keep long-term calendars and appointment books. But just as you have to be prepared to change expected events and appointments, you have to be prepared to change the specifics of how you achieve your goals.
Make your resolutions, but make them fit your daily life.
Remember the old Yiddish proverb: “Man plans, God laughs.”