As many of you know, I am passionate about gardening; probably a little OCD in that regard. I love gardening because it is cyclic, dynamic and ever-changing. Each season brings something new and delightful. I just spent several days pruning our 12 fruit trees. Each tree is like a sculpture to me, needing to be shaped and formed in order to create a new crop of delicious fruit. And, each one will be different from what it was the year prior. Each tree will have a “New Year” unique to itself. All of nature is this way–our lives are this way!
I think it is wonderful that we set a line of demarcation between one season of life and another. It could be January 1st, the Chinese New Year, or Rosh Hashanah for our Jewish friends, in fact, there are 26 different “New Year” celebrations around the world. Each marks an ending and a new beginning; a new opportunity to experience life differently. It is the same for those who celebrate their birthday—a formal way of saying goodbye (or maybe good riddance) to the past and embracing something unforeseen, with anticipation of something different or better.
Humankind needs new beginnings, we each need to experience New Years. We need a ritual that dispels the humdrum, tedious nature of life, or the darkness and pain it can produce, and rekindles hopefulness. New Year is synonymous with new vision, new hope, and the desire for positive changes in one’s circumstances. A New Year is an open door before you beckoning, “Where you want to go now?” Each New Year is a seductive new adventure!
So the question is, how are you going to walk through that new door and embrace the adventure? A New Year allows you to start off with a clean slate, wipe away all the past stuff that’s negative and a downer, and focus on that which is optimistic and encouraging. Why not? It doesn’t cost you any more to be upbeat than to be critical. In fact, it’s just the opposite. It’s like putting money in the bank because you are doing something very good for yourself which will pay big dividends. Being critical is withdrawing funds and can soon leave you bankrupt, bereft of motivation and hope an emotionally crippled.
Here is another challenge–crossing the threshold of a New Year isn’t like passing through a magic door into Narnia--everything still looks and feels the same. It’s up to each of us to make the “magic” work. Take my garden for example. It takes thought and lots of energy to properly prune those fruit trees. To get a beautiful array of flowers, I have to remove the old and plant new, and fertilize and diligently attend to every detail. I am on an annual cycle, so I have a New Year of activity that is necessary to produce a glorious outcome.
I often muse over the lengthy, often grandiose list of New Year’s resolutions people make. This practice is awesome, and an important step if we are to enjoy a New Year. Unfortunately, there is a formula which must be applied that will enable us to actually realize our goals. Otherwise, it’s “wait until next year,” and a quick return back to the status quo. The New Year then becomes a lost opportunity.
A successful New Year has seven characteristics:
Vision – the ability or desire to see things differently, do things differently or experience something new. It is looking past the here and now, and determining, “Where you want to go now!”
Planning – the ability to create a roadmap to take you “Where you want to go now.” Life is rarely serendipitous; it takes thoughtfulness and strategy.
Effort – or maybe better said, work! You cannot achieve anything without applying energy, effort and work
Will Power – as much as I hate to say it, “Where there is a will, there is a way.” This cliche has a nugget of truth. Accomplishment is preceded by discipline, determination, perseverance and personal drive. No, you cannot “will” something into existence, but you can “work” things into existence!
Patience – the ability to allow time to produce fruit. I cannot go to my garden now and pick an apple or peach. But in seven to nine months, I will be doing just that. You will only reach where you want to go by giving yourself enough time to get there!
Adjustments – the process of getting to “Where you want to go now” is a circuitous path at best. We need to learn to make adjustments and deviations to accommodate unforeseen obstacles or barriers. If you allow them to become roadblocks, you won’t go anywhere. Success is learning to navigate a new path along the way!
Fruition – the ability to enjoy the fruit of your labor. We need to not only learn how to, but take the time to celebrate accomplishments and successes. There have been too many years where I have been so busy that I failed to fully harvest all of my fruit trees. The fruit dropped and it was too late. This can happen in everything we do. We can become so busy, so controlled by the tyranny of the urgent, that we fail to enjoy the fruition of our Vision, Planning, Effort, Will Power, Patients and Adjustments!
Life is a journey, full of twists and turns, bumpy roads, and newly paved streets. But, this journey is also replete with multiple opportunities to experience a New Year, boldly striding through a door of adventure, loudly proclaiming, “Where do you want to go now!”
If you're looking for a new adventure this new year, try getting involved with Family Care Network by becoming a tutor, volunteer, mentor, or foster parent. By getting involved with us, you can help children, youth, and families in need and give back to your own community in the process. To sign up and start getting involved, click here.