Priorities—Not Resolutions—for the New Year

An intention and awareness of oneself and others can replace a traditional resolution

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A wise colleague of mine chooses to set priorities instead of making traditional New Year’s resolutions. As he explained, plans to exercise and eat healthier may come and go, but staying mindful of priorities like being kind, empathetic and self-aware, and using one’s time, talents and treasures to serve others, create the foundation of a life with both inward and outward focuses. That intention provides an awareness that allows us to pay attention to our own actions and motivations as well as those of others.

I love learning every day by observing, observing myself and my own choices and those of others. I try my very best to keep judgment out of it, and I suppose being in a scientific field gives me a bit of a boost. Each of us has so many factors in our past and present that lead us to make the choices we do. We make choices about how we engage with and trust others, how we give of ourselves to our world (near and far), how we make ourselves vulnerable to failure and other forms of learning, and how we choose to show our love and kindness and empathy to others.

This past Sunday at church, our minister used the story of the wise men journeying to find the newborn King as a metaphor for our life journeys, with the twists and turns, dead ends, moments of doubt as well as belief. He spoke of the star that guided their way. I could not help but think about the priorities mentioned by my colleague and how those can act as “stars,” guiding and reassuring us as we make choices each day. We can look to the actions and choices of others to support our efforts to be a part of the world beyond ourselves. Through these priorities we can set new paths, as well as reinforce old ones.

I was struck by a quotation read by our minister on Sunday. It came from the Reverend Alice McClellan Trowbridge, my dear, dear friend and godmother to our second daughter. She says, “All seekers are responding to something larger than themselves—something higher, nobler—or to an emptiness that yearns to be filled. Sometimes our restlessness is a call to recognize that it is time to move beyond our comfort zone into a new realm and seek God’s presence in new places and people.” In terms of priorities for the New Year, I believe my colleague and my dear, old friend Ali have set the perfect path for our journey. I am open to, and excited for, the ride.

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