If nothing else, the “new” year is a signal for reflection and preparation. 

January 1 does not know that it is significant or dramatically different from December 31. To one, the other is just another day. It’s unaware that we have attached special meaning and significance to the turning of the calendar. January 1 is a marker for new beginnings, an opportunity for a reset, or a clean palette upon which to write or draw the next lines of our future.

Whether in reflection (active, persistent, and careful consideration) or preparation (the cognitive process of thinking about what you will do), some degree of critical thinking is useful and profitable.

We should never underestimate the power we have to take our lives in a new direction. That power rarely, if ever, resides in the capricious or the impulsive. It is more likely found in the well-considered or the examined. 

This power originates in exploration (the clean palette) and is refined in the stress-testing of tough questions, beginning with ”What if?” and concluding with “What then?” It is driven by what we do best and where we find our joy in doing. It exists in the context of reality (although it can be amplified by dreams).

Let’s Go Exploring!

If reflection is about “careful consideration” and learning and preparation is about getting ready for doing, then why not go exploring as well? 

Take the symbolism seriously: What new beginnings are appropriate? Where is a reset a wise move? What about that clean palette… what is worthy of your fresh, new and different consideration and preparation? What needs to go and what needs special attention and nurture? Where do you need some help? What weak spots need shoring up? What is your personal and professional intent for the short run? The long run?

Let’s add some “I” questions: Ask yourself “How might I ___ so that I can ___” questions. What am I missing? Where am I stuck? What problem(s) do I need to solve (not “what symptoms do I need to alleviate”)?

What went wrong last year? What did I learn from it? What went right last year? Why? 

Who do I need to check on? What fences do I need to mend?

What important (but not urgent) things have I been putting off? Why? Does the answer make sense?


Every beginning has an ending. The goodbye should not deter you. It is the gateway to your future and possibly the best story of your life. For some, the most difficult part of the journey is their belief that they’re not worthy of the trip. Mistrust of the future makes it hard to give up the past, no matter what it held.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” It involves movement and direction.

Begin at the beginning. It’s a lot like golf: you start where the ball is.

Along the way, make sense, make progress and make a difference.

Enjoy the journey. December 31 is coming.

In Other Words…

“Most people, when confronted with a choice of changing their thoughts or proving there is no need to change, get busy on the proof.” – John Maynard Keyes

“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.” ― T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!” ― Hunter S. Thompson, The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967

“Wow, it really snowed last night! Isn’t it wonderful? Everything familiar has disappeared! The world looks brand new!
A new year … a fresh, clean start! It’s like having a big white sheet of paper to draw on! A day full of possibilities! It’s a magical world, Hobbes, ol’ buddy … let’s go exploring!” ― Bill Watterson, It’s a Magical World

In The Word…

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.” –Job 38:4