The turning of a new year is always a good time to rededicate ourselves to being better people. And what better place to start than those around you.
A new year is traditionally viewed as a sort of fresh start, a clean slate, a new beginning. It’s estimated that about 45% of Americans typically make New Year resolutions, according to www.statisticbrain.com, and only about 8% of those resolutions are realized.
The top 10 resolutions for 2014, according to the same website, are to lose weight, get organized, spend less and save more, enjoy life to the fullest, stay fit and healthy, learn something exciting, quit smoking, help others in their dreams, fall in love, and spend more time with family.
Of the resolutions made for the new year, it's estimated that 75% will make it past the first week, and only 46% will make it past 6 months. That's not the greatest of success rates but, of course, that doesn't mean one shouldn't try to better oneself in areas where you think improvement is needed.
There's a natural tendency, I think, to look beyond home for measures of success, however. The problem is that such factors often aren't totally under our control - things like wealth, recognition, material possessions, etc. Inspirational speaker Zig Ziglar used to say that "Money won't make you happy, but everybody seems to want to find out for themselves."
I like to think that the most meaningful yardsticks for measuring success are things that we generally have a lot of control over. There's an old adage I heard a few years ago that goes something like this: "To the world you may be just one person, but to one person you just may be the world." I think we all too often get caught up in the race for something more, bigger or better. Meanwhile, the thing that carries the truest and deepest personal reward might just be a loved one, be it child, a spouse, an elderly relative or friend, or any person who looks up to you.
This is a lesson I think we all viscerally know and understand, but often have to be reminded of, and it's the turn of a phrase that sometimes provides the cold slap that forces us to stop and take inventory. And the turning of a new year is always a good time to rededicate ourselves to such important pursuits.
Golda Meir, the legendary Israeli prime minister, once said: "Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life." I recently heard a more succinct and humorous version of that sentiment by author J.W. Stephens, which went like this: "Strive to be the kind of person your dog thinks you are."
I don't know if it's possible for any of us to live up to that kind of lofty image, but best of luck for a great 2014.
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