It’s that time of year again… a new year, and time for New Year’s resolutions. I thought about what I wanted to do with this year and how I could improve myself, but I lacked inspiration, so as usual I turned to Google.
The first thing I found was a list of the ten most common New Year’s resolutions. They were all excellent, but all of them are things I already strive for on a daily basis: spending more time with loved ones, getting more organized, exercising, eating healthy, etc. I remained uninspired.
After spending more time in attempts to find a resolution, I stumbled upon the million-dollar question: Why do I even need to make a new year’s resolution? What makes January 1st so special in that it’s the only time of year to make a new resolution and improve myself? I knew there had to be a reason resolutions exist, otherwise, why is this custom worldwide?
After contemplating these questions (and doing some research of course), I found my answers. The magic of a new year is that it inspires us to dream big. We tend to get stuck in the monotony of day-to-day life. There is just something about a new year that breaks that cycle. It helps us realize that “if we did all the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves” –Thomas Edison.
The promise of new beginnings allows us the opportunity to shoot for the stars and remove the cynicism that seeps into our lives as the year progresses. Kristi Hedges from Forbes Magazine said, “we’ve been trained to be critical and think small. We’re cautious of new ideas and motives, and we wait for the other shoe to drop. We get a lot of social reinforcement for this posture by being heralded as savvy, analytical, and smart.”
New Year’s is the time to realize that cynicism does not inspire anyone. Being cynical will not help us get our dream job or be the person we aspire to be. This is one of the many reasons we make (and stick to!) New Year’s resolutions. We need to learn to shed the negative thoughts that prevent us from accomplishing the goals we wish to set for ourselves.
Most importantly though, we need New Year’s resolutions to help us develop our self-assessment skills. Being able to honestly assess our strengths and weaknesses is a critical skill for all MPA’s as a student and as a future employee. Self-assessment allows us to be accurately judge the quality of our work, to step back from our work to evaluate our efforts and accomplishments, and to set personal goals. Self-assessment is an integral part of how we learn and improve. This ability to self-assess and self-reflect is what distinguishes self-directed future leaders from those who sit and learn passively in the classroom. Those who commit to the process of accurately assessing themselves tend to become more radiant and authentic human beings.
So take this time to inspire yourself and think big. This is the year to commit to becoming the person you aspire to be, and to expect success. You are never too busy, overwhelmed, or inadequate to face the challenge of improving yourself for the better. To finish up this post, I would like to leave you with one of my favorite quotes by Marianne Williamson to inspire you to reach your goals, whatever they might be:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.”