The moment past failure is where greatness lives.
I was working on a story for work about resolutions, and learned that according to different surveys, only some 40 percent of Americans bother with making a resolution at the beginning of a new year. I am one of them, I guess. Those same surveys suggest that most people who try, end up failing by the time March rolls around, but if you push past March, 60 percent of people end up accomplishing their new year, new me goals.
I’ve never thought of myself as an optimist, but I do regularly make a resolution or two at the start of a new year, knowing the odds are that I will not make a significant change for the entire 12 months. That doesn’t mean there is no accomplishment– last year I wanted to read one book each month, but it did not work out that way. I did still read for pleasure more than I had in the last few years. I resolved to lose a certain amount of weight while also getting stronger, and that did not happen. Still, I learned some important lessons about being happy in the healthy body you have now, while wanting something more for yourself in the future. I wanted a more robust savings account, and again I did not reach the numerical goal I had in mind, but again, I developed better money saving habits that have helped me with small unexpected matters like a few car problems that would have just destroyed me financially in my mid-twenties.
For 2018, I plan to continue on goals that remain important to me, even if my steps towards those goals are small. You know the saying– the time will pass anyway. In my early thirties, the biggest change in my life is accepting that it is ok to be happy where you are now. What I mean is that in my twenties I felt like I was passing the time waiting to live the great life I expected. This feeling is not unusual for many young journalists. Most of us want to be in a huge market making the millions of dollars reserved for so very few, and that can cause a person to feel like they should just go through the motions until they get to that place. That is a terrible way to live. What I want now is to cherish my life as it is without losing sight of how I would like my future to look. It is for that reason that I am resolving to have a daily gratitude journal for 2018.
In a 2003 study on gratitude, researchers found that practicing mindful gratitude does have an effect on your well-being. In the study, people who wrote down things that happened in the week that made them feel grateful, reported being happier than people who focused on their problems. It is tough not to focus on your problems, though. I could read an entire newscast perfectly, and at the end only find myself talking about the wonky way I pronounced the name of a town. That is why the action of writing something down is so powerful. It is the active choice to look at the good, sit with it, and be happy.
Celebrating our successes, no matter how small, can also provide the energy we might need to reach the top of the mountain. Still, in the event you don’t reach the summit, it would be nice if you enjoyed the journey that got you wherever you landed. This probably sounds like I’m trying to go for a real poetic kind of metaphor, but I am not. A few years ago I literally traveled for hours to climb a mountain, and could not reach the summit because it turned out I was not ready for the level of difficulty, and I had a panic attack over how steep the drop looked, and there was a storm coming, so I turned around. It was the right thing to do, and I do not regret it, but at the time I was really unhappy about this. Looking at the pictures now, I notice how nice the views look. I bet they were more majestic in person. It’s too bad I didn’t notice then.
Enjoy your life. For 2018, I’ll keep enjoying mine.