Cheers to 2016, everyone! We’re four days in to another year, and something tells me it’s going to be a good one. Call it a woman’s intuition (or thinly veiled desperation), but I really think 2016 is going to bring great things. 2015 presented some of the highest highs and lowest lows I’ve experienced in my short 21 years, so I have high hopes for the 361 days to come.
Deep down, I think people are drawn to the idea of a “new year” because, whether we admit it or not, we’re all attracted to the idea of self-improvement. Who doesn’t want to be his best self? It’s not that the changing calendar date will magically transform you into a better “you,” but it can signify a starting point for self-reflection.
I think one of life’s greatest dangers is inattentiveness. The monotony of routine causes the days to blend together, we fall into patterns and little negative habits become so deeply ingrained in our character that we become unrecognizable from our former selves.
It’s never a bad time to step back and look at yourself objectively, but a brand new year is the best time. So, what have I learned from a few days of more attentive self-analysis?
1. I need to talk less and listen more. Sometimes I get so excited by my own ideas and experiences that I don’t listen as well as I should. My friend CJ once told me, “Listen with the intent to understand, not to reply.” Everyone loves to talk about themselves, and sometimes the greatest gift you can give someone is your unadulterated attention. This year, I want to focus on being someone who makes other people feel good.
2. Trying to plan every aspect of your life can cheat you out of valuable experiences. I am so guilty of only engaging in activities that are planned thoroughly ahead of time. I didn’t go to Dallas this New Years because I didn’t want to take the plunge and buy the Cotton Bowl ticket, and I’ve skipped out on so many “away game” weekends because the lodging accommodations weren’t totally figured out yet. I want to go into 2016 with a "say yes" attitude — because truthfully, some of the best experiences I’ve ever had were the spontaneous adventures that I didn’t give much consideration to ahead of time.
3. If things are meant to work out, they’re going to, and trusting this simple fact will simplify your life significantly. I’ve recently invested more time and energy into developing a worthwhile faith life, but this one isn’t necessarily attributed to the plans of a greater power. If anything, it’s that, logically, people will pursue who and what they want. If that’s you, it’s going to be you (no matter what the circumstances). If it’s not, there’s nothing you can do about it. This might sound a little harsh, but it’s beautifully calming! It means that people and things that are supposed to grow together will do so naturally.
I grew a lot in 2015 (metaphorically, of course; I’ve been 5’1” since 7th grade). It was a year I became much happier with myself and, for the first time, became content with being on my own. I met wonderful people. I pursued professional career development in Portland and Atlanta. I fell in love. I learned more about who I am, and what I want. I got my heart broken (to quote Blair Waldorf on the subject, “She lost 10 pounds and got an eyelift — it was good for her,”). I adopted two cats with Erin, then gave them away when Chandler became allergic. I cumulatively spent hundreds of dollars on mozzarella sticks, with no regret to speak of. It was a whirlwind, people.
Here’s hoping 2016 will be a beautiful year of self-improvement, love and contentment!