New Year’s Day: Self Improvement’s Holiday

The Calendar's Gift to Us is A Fresh Start

A few days ago, my youngest daughter Stephany declared that New Year’s Day was her second-favorite holiday (behind Christmas).  As visions of cranberry sauce, Thanksgiving Day parades, Easter bunnies and baskets, fireworks, and Valentine’s Day candy danced around my head, I asked, “Seriously?!”

Then the younger schooled the older.

She said that she just loved the whole premise of “fresh starts” and putting into action things you’d learned (sometimes the hard way) in the previous year.  As she explained it, even the Easter bunnies stopped dancing and listened.

As Thelma from Scooby Doo fame would say, “Jenkies! She’s got something.”   I’d have gone on putting candy hearts above New Year’s Day…. if not for that meddling kid.

The whole premise of fresh starts occurred to me a few nights ago.   As you know, there are few places I’d rather be than in my kitchen cooking.  I LOVE to cook and trying out new recipes (most of which I kind of make up as I go along) is a personal joy.  I wanted to make homemade re-fried beans a few nights ago to accompany cheese enchiladas, Mexican rice and guacamole with chips.  I was in a bit of a hurry, so I plucked a random recipe from an old cookbook.  It wasn’t an Authentic Mexican cookbook, so I had serious doubts.  I mean, if you want excellent re-fried beans, you have to go to the source of the most excellent re-fried beans ever.

Like I said, I was in a hurry and more times than not haste makes waste.  In this case, a waste of time.

The beans were a bitter disappointment – canned would have been better!

As I was cleaning up after the meal, I thought how I wished I could reverse time and have a “Do Over.”  I’d have backed time up a little bit and sought out a good, authentic Mexican recipe – as opposed to grabbing the first one I found.

Unfortunately, there are no do overs in life.

Or are there?

In a way, New Year’s day is all about DO OVERS.  What better time to think back over the past year(s) and ask yourself, “What would I like to DO OVER?”  Here’s our chance to get it right this time.  Take a minute to reflect over the past year.

  • What were some things you “got right?” Think of the great decisions you made and of the times you wowed yourself.  Vow to keep heading in the right direction and finish what you’ve started.
  • What’s the biggest mistake you made last year? No doubt you learned something from it – even if it was a whopper!  Our mistakes are like very strict teachers, there’s nothing remotely enjoyable about them but we learn from them like nothing else.  A lot of people say we should never think about our past mistakes – to just pretend they never happened.  I’m not so sure I’m totally on board that thought train.  Agreed, we shouldn’t dwell on them to the point of agony and we should NEVER allow ourselves to become racked with guilt or self-pity (neither’s attractive or productive). However, if we don’t acknowledge the mistake(s) and acknowledge the lessons learned, we won’t learn a single thing.
  • What areas of your life (personal and professional) have room for improvement?  Vow to do whatever it is you have to do to improve yourself… and thereby your life… in the coming year.

Here’s a little something I’ll share with you and only you.  I’ve admitted the re-fried beans gaffe, what else have I got to lose?!  Last year, thanks to a couple of my daughters who joined me in a great walking routine, I dropped some unwanted and unappreciated weight.  During the course of spring and summer, I lost 15 pounds!  When I went to my doctor, she asked me what I’d been doing and said she was impressed.  Always good to impress the doctor.

In August, however, I hurt my right foot.  I dropped a heavy glass jar right on the top of the foot (why oh why do we Kentuckians so rarely wear shoes around the house?!?! ). I’m certain I cracked a bone.  Anyway, as you can imagine, the walking routine suffered.  I tried, against better judgment, to keep walking but I ended up making the foot worse.  I’d walk through the pain, but I wasn’t able to walk as fast as normal.

If I had been as smart as I sometimes like to think I am, I would have made CERTAIN to adjust my diet accordingly.  But, noooo, I kept eating like normal and gained back 10 of the 15pounds.  When you’re on thyroid medicine, 10 pounds DO NOT COME OFF EASY.  Believe me, it’s a fight.  Yet, I managed to take them off anyway.  I felt great!  Unfortunately, it was all but a wasted effort because I didn’t devise a diet plan.  When you fail to plan, you plan to fail. And fail I did.

It’d be really easy to get discouraged and say, “Forget it!” It’d be even easier to feel sorry for myself for what happened to my poor foot.  But I’m adamant that the elusive 10 come off again and would love if they coax about 10 more friends to follow them! Feeling sorry for yourself and allowing discouragement to take center stage get you nowhere, and I’m not interested in going nowhere!

The point is, my mistake was a painful one. It was infuriating and I still grumble underneath my breath at myself.  But I learned something in the process. One of my biggest flaws is that I tend to be flighty and assume everything will just take care of itself.  I tend to live in my own little world and am not proactive nearly enough.  While I do like myself,  sometimes I don’t make it easy.

As we head into 2011, think back over 2010 and ask yourself what you wish you’d done differently.  If you had the chance, what would you have done over?  While we can’t go back and take a second crack at it (oooh, my foot didn’t like that choice of words), we CAN arm ourselves with a valuable lesson and new-found resolve.  Who knows where that can lead us… but won’t it be wonderful to find out?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are disrespectful, offensive, or off-topic.

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16 thoughts on “New Year’s Day: Self Improvement’s Holiday

  1. I honestly can say I dun think I would’ve done anything over in 2010. I made some mistakes yes, but I gained some valuable lessons from those mistakes.
    Henway´s last blog post ..Medifast Wiki

  2. For some reason I find that when I exercising regularly, I eat better. When I am not taking the time to work out, I don’t eat well. It’s crazy. I don’t know why that happens.

    I had a similar story in 2010. Worked out a lot and lost a bunch of weight. The last few months of year, I stopped working out and gain some of that back. It’s time to get back to it.
    Larry´s last blog post ..Polar RS400 Heart Rate Monitor Watch Review

  3. “Feeling sorry for yourself and allowing discouragement to take center stage get you nowhere, and I’m not interested in going nowhere!”

    - This is 100% true! You will only feel down if you don’t manage to control all your failures. Let those discouragements be your strength in pursuing your life.
    Samantha Dermot´s last blog post ..Symptoms Of Teeth Grinding

  4. Nice blog! To me, self-improvement is not about gaining notoriety, earning more money, making friends, losing weight or having better sex. Although these things can be welcome side effects of self-improvement, the most powerful form of self-improvement involves shutting out the noise of the outside world, sorting through society’s “shoulds,” discovering your personal truth and doing the necessary work to ensure that this truth is protected and manifested through your every breath, word and action.

  5. Beth, I LOVE fresh starts – the whole concept of getting a second chance to back up, check everything out, and have another whack at it! The majority of our greatest inventions were the results of second (third, fourth, fifth…) tries.

  6. Ashley, Thanks so much. Very well said. All of the things that people associate with happiness and success are merely results of bringing out the best in oneself. When we get the best out of ourselves, we tend to get the best out of life!

  7. You’re write up is very enlightening. I agree with all the points you’ve shared and it open my eyes in some points. Thank your for sharing it with us.

  8. The New Year is all about fresh starts and new goals, but without the motivation to accomplish and pursue our goals, we may find ourselves in the same spot.

    http://www.MOTEEVATE.com is a social network designed to help users achieve their goals, no matter how big or small. Create a profile, track your progress, invite your friends, and join a community of experts and moteevators to help you inspire and be inspired.

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  9. i learned my gut instinct is spot on. and to afford the ‘ol gut more say in my decision making process. great post by the way. cheers.