December 31, 2013

New Year 2014 Says Goodbye to 2013


New Year 2014 New Year 2014

As the year closes, we tend to look back on the year and reflect. It’s normal. We grow up hearing about new year resolutions, listening to adult talk about how things didn’t turn out as planned, and what they’ll do differently in the coming year. It’s a lot of pressure for a kid, or even a young adult.

We’re expected to make each year better than the one before. But how is that possible? It’s only possible if you look back at the prior twelve months and see them as needing to be changed. We’re conditioned to focus on the negative and change it instead of looking at the positive and perpetuate it. The conversation turns, in an instant, from “the joy of the season” to 101 reasons we need to change ourselves, our lives, our circumstances.

Although trite, we can’t change the past. We can, however, reframe it and see it for what it is. A moment in time. Sometimes we just need a little perspective. My aunt relayed a story to me about the opening of the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC. Many years ago she and my uncle were invited to be among the special guests at the United States Holocaust Museum before it opened to the public. They were two of about 100 people, most of whom were Holocaust survivors. It was cold and rainy and dreary as they all sat under a tent listening to various speakers, including the President. My aunt looked at me squarely and said “It was cold, but we didn’t complain. How could we? We were among people who survived the Holocaust, surely we could bear a little rain and cold.”

Perspective. It’s easy to head down a rabbit hole of negativity, “what if”, or “why me”. Our minds can pull us away from the light and positive thoughts if we allow it. We can judge ourselves harshly if we read social media or look at all the photos posted and question why our lives aren’t as fabulous, interesting, or filled with new and sparkly things.

We’ve allowed technology to give us a glimpse into a world that used to be private. We’ve used technology to put our lives out there for others to see, and judge. We love our tech. I write about it here.

But I also hope that I encourage you to look ahead and plan for a life you really want. Use technology to amplify and beautify your life. Put away the technology and look inside yourself and see what others see. Find a way to make 2014 more about you sharing YOU with yourself.

It doesn’t matter if you have a basic flip phone or a smartphone, use it to connect with others. No camera phone? Doesn’t matter, you can still document your life. And share it. No money to buy apps? Grab the free ones and us them to your advantage. Whether it’s to be more fit, get daily affirmations, or play games to pass time waiting at places you’d rather not be, use technology to your advantage.

We look around and see what others have and think we’re missing out. We compare ourselves and what we have. Or don’t have. We get stuck looking in the past and lamenting what wasn’t. We look forward and hope and wish. Yet we don’t breathe in and enjoy the present.

We all have 24 hours each day yet we choose to spend many moments staring down at a screen or looking through a lens. Technology can’t give us more time, but it can help us better use our time. We can carry all those great books with us, easily. We can listen to brilliant people share information. We can speak to people we miss dearly.

The beginning of 2014 isn’t about looking back at 2013 and lamenting how it wasn’t the year we hoped for. It’s also not a time to look ahead and hope for things to happen. If we resolve to take each day as it comes and make it the best day possible, we won’t have to look back or look forward to find times for joy and happiness.

Look back at all the photos you took in 2013. Do they represent the people, places, things, and experiences that brought you the most joy. We’re quick to click, post, and share so others now see how cool we are. In life, though, it’s not about the photos. They’ll fade (or, in our case, more likely become inaccessible as technology advances), we’ll forget the names. We’ll be overwhelmed by the thousands of photos that we’ve saved to document how wonderful our life is.

In the end, though, it’s the pictures in our mind that stay with us. The stories we can share over and over again. The people who will listen and laugh and cry. Some for the first time, and others who were there the first time.

Don’t look back. Don’t look forward. Look around and appreciate right now.

Disclosure: This post is part of a series on lifestyle technology I write as a Verizon Insider. No compensation was provided, but I do have a business relationship with Verizon Wireless and am periodically provided products to sample.




Diana January 4, 2014 at 10:48 am

Wow, Sara. I love this post. I found this line particularly striking: “The conversation turns, in an instant, from “the joy of the season” to 101 reasons we need to change ourselves, our lives, our circumstances.” My back-to-school in January activity for the kids is exactly what you have described, a look back at 2013- the great moments! Rather than a focus on what went wrong, how can you fix it.

Sara January 4, 2014 at 9:55 pm

Diana, thank you for visiting and commenting. I’m glad you’re taking a more positive approach for your January activity. I think your kids will see how successful 2013 was and look forward to more great things in 2014.

Kate @ Songs Kate Sang January 4, 2014 at 10:26 pm

“joy in the season” – I just love this phrase. Yes. Listening to myself breathe is almost the only way I can slow down and really think about joy.

donna January 7, 2014 at 6:40 pm

THIS is my favorite “end of the year, start of the year” post! So insightful and just what I needed to hear. Participating in “My One Word” I chose COMPLETE because I want to complete projects and DO more of life rather than POST more of life. It’s a hard balance for me, a nearly empty-nested stay at home mom! I worry that I have some how missed too many opportunities when I should be taking risks and making the opportunities I want! Great post!

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