So this one will be different.
Another year has passed, remarkably fast and excruciatingly slow both in turns and at the same time. Time is a weird concept to me. Once I learned that it’s not the same “time” for everyone in the world simultaneously, a lot of time-related traditions became meaningless for me, especially perhaps New Year’s. Why make a big deal over a holiday with a pinnacle that varies according to your time zone (and on which side of the international date line you happen to be)?
And yet, I still find myself drawn to pause and reflect, set intentions, and dream about what could be–something I do throughout the year, but somehow, at the culmination of the year, it feels like something shared, as so many people around the world are doing the same. In their own time zones, of course.
One thing I’ve always loved to do might, at first glance, seem very unhelpful. When I reflect on the year, I talk to the self I was at that time, to whisper a few words of guidance, encouragement, warnings, and yes, even threats, which is so silly since whatever has happened has already done just that–happened. Nothing I tell myselves as I was throughout the year changes anything, and I’ve been told it’s a futile exercise, that I can’t change the past, and that I should instead look only to the future.
I disagree strongly. I think this helps me acknowledge the progress I’ve made, identify my areas of lack where I could improve, and give me the space to prepare myself for a future that may not include the same challenges but could have challenges that are similar enough for me to be able to recognize which tools I already have that I could use to get through them. At the same time, actively (in my memories, that is) revisiting the amazing things that happened throughout the year prevents them from being overshadowed by the dark. This helps me see what is sparkling with light in the future.
Reflections in Retrospect: Embracing the Past for the New Year
This is what inspired me to create Dear 2019 Me way back in December 2019. I was answering all the questions I usually set to myself when I realized that these yearly questions would have been wonderful to use in class. Of course, the following year was 2020, and so many of the questions took on new layers of depths because the line of demarcation between who we were in 2019 and who we became in 2020, well, that boundary became rather distinct, wouldn’t you say? And so, each year, I have changed the year on each page, changed the cover to reflect some aspect of that year, and sometimes added more questions.
It’s after the reflection and the inner time traveling that I look to the future. The sun has set, and it’s about to rise. Again, a whole new year (hopefully) stretches before me like a horizon I walk towards. Walk, not run. I’m in no hurry because I know that when I get there, there’ll either be another or there won’t be. Whichever the case, it’s the present I want to savor, not the future.
That doesn’t mean I don’t make plans or hopeful intentions. I definitely do. I wish, though, that I had learned long ago how to make better goals so that I could stand a better chance of seeing them through rather than dismissing them altogether as wishful thinking of things out of my control.
New Year Goals: Sculpting the Path to the Tomorrow They Want
I didn’t learn much about goal setting or achieving goals until well into my adulthood, and now, of course, I find difficulty in shutting up about it, wanting to ensure that others learn about it much earlier in their lives than I did. Just as parents always want better lives for their children than the lives they lived themselves, we teachers want to set our students up for as much success as possible, perhaps even dreaming of what they will one day achieve.
With that at the forefront of my mind, I began creating goal-themed resources–the ones I wish I’d had in classes of students long gone now. Whether discussing goals with students at the beginning of the calendar new year or the beginning of the term, magic happens. For them. For me. I’m not going to go into that because that magic is personal, as it will be for you.
Farewell Past Self
So, as I wait for today’s sunset on this year, I want to wish you all a happy new year! We made it. (as in survived it and created it) And we’ll make it again next year.