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Did You Do Anything Right This Year??

I’m pretty sure it is a bad sign when people start making New Year’s resolutions for you.

My husband wants me to join him on his fabulous new caffeine-free lifestyle. He also keeps dropping the word “paleo” into conversation.

My mom cut out a little article for me about how Diet Coke does not, in fact, help you lose weight.

My money guy keeps reminding me about how I need to put more into my IRA than the contents of my change jar at tax time and my daughter joyously uses her Mint app in front of me –as if I will be divinely inspired to do the same.

I swear, these guys may have my best interests at heart, but they just don’t get the point of New Year’s at all.

Granted, I am just as flawed as they think I am, but New Year’s is simply NOT THE TIME. The fail rate is just too high.

Instead, the only self-improvement anyone needs to make on New Year’s Eve is the one where you look back over the past year and count all the things you did right in 2013.

This is not something I generally do. I like to wake up every day and count the ways I invariably messed up the week before, messed up the day before, and messed up that very day– even though it is only 5:30 a.m.

This is because I have the same brain as everyone else. We humans are wired to constantly scan for areas of improvement because it helps us stay alive and perpetuate the species.

We are biologically designed to rewind our run-in with a sabre-tooth tiger the day before so that we do not run into a sabre-tooth tiger again today.

Most of the time, that works exactly how it is supposed to work. Yet it can make us feel like we are perpetually being chased by sabre-toothed tigers.

That’s why we have New Years. Because we are supposed to look back over the calendar of the old year and feel surprised at just how much we did right.

I’ll bet you attended a bazillion meetings. I bet you woke up on time for work hundreds of times. I’ll bet you went to the dentist once or twice and got shots for your dog and made your mother happy at least once.

If you have kids, I’ll bet you fed them and I’ll bet they grew. I’ll bet you have driven them to Mommy and Me classes or speech therapy or trumpet lessons or football practice or dance recitals or job interviews. I’ll bet you reminded them to brush their teeth more than 700 times this week alone.

If you are military, I might put money on the fact that half of you have moved this year, touched every item you possessed and had to find someone new to cut your hair. I’ll bet the deployment you finished in 2013 might have already begun to fade–even as the next one looms.

If you have had a tragedy in your family this year (and every family has their years of tragedy), you have already started the incredible work of experiencing tragedy and living with tragedy and moving through tragedy. That work is huge and you already started.

The little things we finish every day are easily forgotten, lost in the maelstrom of all that is left to do. When you look back over a year and think of all the things you did right, there is a little power in that—the kind that propels you forward into the next year.

About Jacey Eckhart

Jacey Eckhart is the Director of Spouse and Family Programs for Military.com. Since 1996, Eckhart’s take on military families has been featured in her syndicated column, her book The Homefront Club, and her award winning CDs These Boots and I Married a Spartan?? Most recently she has been featured as a military family subject matter expert on NBC Dateline, CBS morning news, CNN, NPR and the New York Times. Eckhart is an Air Force brat, a Navy wife and an Army mom.

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