The Anti-Resolution

Do your New Year’s resolutions feel more like a To-Do List: eat less sugar, go to the gym, get more organized?

Sure, it’s good to look ahead with purpose and know where you’re going. But, isn’t there just as much value in looking back?

Where Have You Been?

I mean, what if, when the ball drops, instead of sharing what you want in 2014, you look back at what you’ve already gained since January 2013? How are you different from the person you were one year ago? What do you have now that you didn’t have then?

Maybe in this past year, you made a new friend or started walking more or learned to cook. Or maybe you took a risk, did something that scared you or made a hard decision. Even if 2013 knocked you down, you may have gained new wisdom or strength from the experience.

A New Habit

I’ve gotten into the habit of stopping to look back to one year ago, and I like doing it. Even if things haven’t turned out the way I hoped, I can still appreciate something new that I’ve learned—like how to maneuver the DMV line—or a quality I’ve developed—like more patience or diligence–and that makes me feel good.

New Year’s is the perfect time to look back at your year and acknowledge how much you already have. Here’s how:

3 Anti-Resolution Questions

1. How Are You Better? Think about this past year and find one way that you’re better today than you were last year. Maybe you’ve got more clarity than you had before. Or you’re better at playing the piano. Or you’re just stronger than you thought.

2. What do you have? Before thinking about what you want in 2014, stop to appreciate what you already have. As playwright Thornton Wilder said, “We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” What treasures do you already possess? Maybe it’s sun through your kitchen window or a body that moves or kind people in your life. Make a list of 10 things.

3. Feel It. When you think about what you’ve gained in this last year, don’t just make a quick mental note: feel it and savor it for about 15 seconds. That’s because focusing on the good in your life can hardwire your brain for more good feelings.

This New Year’s, it’s great to look forward to 2014. Why not also look back? What have you gained from 2013? I’d love to know.




Photos used under Creative Commons from The hills are alive*, fauxto_digit

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