Thursday, December 30, 2010

A New Year's Resolution

A New Year's Resolution"

I’ve got a friend who polls her colleagues at this time of year and then publishes a list of notable New Year’s resolutions. Lots of lofty goals and ideas but I suspect that more thinking goes into coming up with those resolutions than actually following through on them. While I was pondering my resolutions for next year I noticed an article in the Wall Street Journal (by Elizabeth Bernstein on 12/28) that suggested a good resolution would be to focus on making 2011 a year of great relationships. She writes that we should “focus on the state of your relationships instead of the state of your abs.” Hey, that sounds good to me (so much for my repeated resolution about losing weight)!

We all get caught up in our own worlds, with our own problems and hopes and fears and we tend to make judgments about others that color our relationships and how we think of others. These issues (with a small “i”) aren’t nearly as important as making and nurturing and keeping the relationships we have. We all need to keep our focus on the bigger Issues (with a capital “I”) of family, friends, colleagues and community. Ok, so I admit that this is a recurring theme for me at the end of 2010, but then again isn’t this what the holidays are really all about??Anyways, I was impressed with Ms. Bernstein’s tips for improving interactions with those who matter most to us:
  • Share more
  • Make time to talk
  • Go outside together
  • Turn off the computer
  • Reach out
  • Make new friends
I’ll admit that these weren’t at the top of my list but of resolutions but now that I’m thinking about it, maybe they should be. Like most people, I find that the stuff I write about is as much aspirational as it is real, so I am going to redouble my efforts to follow through on the stuff like this and I encourage you to do the same. Take time this week to remember those you love and care about and to let them know. And make a resolution to be a better and more constant friend in 2011.  My year-end message is about integrity and the value of doing good and being good.

“The right to do something does not mean that doing it is right.”  -William Safire

William Lewis Safire (1929 – 2009) was an American author, columnist, journalist and presidential speechwriter.  He was perhaps best known as a long-time syndicated political columnist for the New York Times.

Just because you can doesn’t always mean that you should – that’s a lesson that everyone should learn. I realize it’s hard to learn this in the abstract but it’s often even harder to learn it through experience. This kind of learning often comes at the cost of having to suffer through the outcome(s) of some particular mistake. The key is to understand how things will be received and perceived by those it affects and to be sensitive enough to include these factors in your thinking and planning. That means you have to be open to the realization that you may be wrong and flexible enough to consider all of the options that may exist and confident enough to listen to all of the viewpoints that might exist and courageous enough to do what’s right. Which means you have to leave your ego behind. Which means you have to be more concerned about the ‘we’ than you are about the ‘me’.

So as you get ready to make your new year’s resolutions for 2011, remember your family, friends and colleagues: don’t take them for granted, don’t assume they’ll always be there even though you’re not, treat them the way you want them to treat you. These relationships should be the most important thing you commit to supporting in this coming year – because if you don’t, you may wake up one day and find them gone. And that would be a shame.

I hope you have a happy and healthy and prosperous and rewarding new year.

I’ll be back next year. 

Stay well.

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