Be Better This Year

It’s that time of year when everyone of us is making and desperately trying to keep our New Year’s Resolutions. Some of us will no doubt have more success than others because we most likely chose more realistic resolutions. 

I have four primary goals this year. They’re simple: read more, write more, enjoy good food and drink more, and laugh more. That’s it.

You know, I’ve tried developing more detailed and specific resolutions for the year. One year, I was going to read a book per month. Another year, I planned to lose 20 pounds. And then, there was the year I decided that I was going to play golf at Pebble Beach. 

Let me save you from the guessing game as to whether or not I accomplished them — I did not. I fell short. I made a good effort at reading a book per month in January but failed to complete one in February that year. I lost some weight the year I pledged to lose 20 pounds but put it back on between Thanksgiving and Christmas (which we all do, don’t we?). And playing golf at Pebble Beach? That dream died the second I found out that one round cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $500. 

By now, you are probably asking, “What is the point of this article?” Great question. 

I want to encourage you to think about 2021 in terms of getting better rather than completing a list of arbitrary and somewhat unrealistic resolutions. That’s the goal in life anyway, isn’t it? Be better today than you were yesterday. Be better this year than you were last year. Therefore, set some goals that will enable you to be better in 2021 than you were in 2020. 

Take my four goals for an example. Here’s how I think they will make me better. 

  1. Read More — Reading expands our minds. Reading takes us to places, times, and settings that we ordinarily would not know. Reading enlarges our vocabulary. Reading forces us to think critically and completely. 
  2. Write More — Writing is the best way to develop free-flowing thoughts and detailed arguments. Writing causes us to process our thoughts fully. Writing leaves an historical record of the events and ideas floating around our minds and lives. 
  3. Enjoy Good Food and Drink More — Good food and drink two of God’s greatest gifts to us. It’s pleasurable to sit at a table and to partake in a meal that was prepared with skill and care. Good food and drink also brings people together (and we could all use that after 2020). 
  4. Laugh More — Laughter is good for our souls. It is beneficial for our physical and emotional health. It also builds and strengthens relationships, making laugh-filled friendships essential to our lives. Who doesn’t want to be around someone who laughs with them?

And there is one final thing that all of these goals will make me do in 2021, and that is: slow down. Reading takes time. Writing takes meditation and time. Enjoying good food and drink requires that I set aside many of the distractions that occupy my mind. Laughing more demands that I give more attention to friends and family so that I can find the humor in their stories and actions.

So, I challenge you to leave your resolutions open-ended this year. Set the goal to be better in 2021 than you were in 2020. Expand your mind, record your thoughts, share some good meals, and be pleasant to be around. And, you’ll have a great year. 

Happy New Year!  

** This article originally appeared in the January 6, 2021 edition of the Chester News and Reporter in Chester, SC.

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