Lately I’ve been lauding the importance of letting go of those people, things, experiences, etc. that bind us and hold us back from being all that we are created to be. Just yesterday I discovered “good riddance day,” a concept I rather like. This past week I’ve gone through a “house cleaning” of sorts, with the prospect of beginning a new year with renewed zest. This has all been good. We need to do this periodically. For me, times like Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to begin our new year, and Passover as we clean out all chumetz, are times of spiritual house cleaning. With 2009 coming to an end, I spent time purging the more secular and mundane junk that I accumulated through the year.
We have now turned the page and are in the year 2010! Wow! A new decade. We have spent time discarding, but what do we intend to “pick up?” How are we going to fill this new found space in our lives? What character traits (middot) are we going to seek to develop going into this decade? What goals and accomplishments have we set before us that will make us better people, our communities more whole, our world more healed? What will we take upon ourselves in order to live more holy lives?
It is easy to speak in generalities. We all do it. “I want to be more kind, more giving, do better.” ” I want to see world peace, the cure for cancer, people get along,” etc. etc. etc. This is all well and good, but unless we have practical, measurable ways of implementing specific tasks that will move us toward reaching our goals, these sentiments are little more than wishful thinking.
My parents are wonderful examples of how to set and meet goals as they embrace each new year. Annually, Mom and Dad take a weekend, either at the end of December or in early January, seclude themselves at some favorite spot, usually a state park, and plan for the coming year. Hiking, sight seeing, and relaxing in the lodge are part of this weekend getaway, but the real purpose is goal setting. Concentrated blocks of time are worked into their schedule to review last year’s goals and tasks, what got accomplished and what didn’t. They set new goals for the coming year, along with specific tasks to perform and a timeline within which to meet those goals. It may be something as mundane as putting a new storm door on the back porch, or fixing the leaky faucet in the downstairs bathroom. But their planning also includes how many books they hope to read, or what subject matter they wish to explore with their religious community. Their plan includes what trips they hope to make during the coming year, and the people they intend to reconnect with or visit (as in us kids who are spread out over this country! Mom and Dad still travel, and as of this past year were still camping!) Anything is fair game when it comes to their planning for the coming year. They even plan future one-day getaways every month for the two of them, and set a tentative date for next year‘s planning retreat. Sometimes goals for one year carry over to the next year. Occasionally unexpected occurrences throw a monkey wrench into their plans and they are forced to adjust. But, as a result of doing this every year for decades, they can look back on an amazingly rich and full life together, one in which much good has been accomplished. They also, after 58 years together, continue to look forward to the good they can and will do. They still dream. They still inspire.
Last week I reviewed what had to be chucked, what needed to go, what must be cleaned out of my life. I wrote of “untethering” from those things that prevent me from becoming all that I can be. This can be a refreshing and liberating process, but the process doesn’t stop here. I invite you to join me, as we turn the corner ending one decade, beginning another, to create a plan of how to make your goals a reality. I will spend this week setting real, measurable goals and tasks for this year and beyond because I really do want to develop more positive character traits, be more kind, more giving, do better, etc. I do want to contribute to making my community more whole, and our world more healed. With that in mind, and the fact that I want these goals to be more substantial than wishful thinking, I resolve to establish a specific yet flexible plan for accomplishing my goals and realizing my dreams. I will share some of them as we go forward, some in the near future, others as we progress through the year. And, I hope to hear from some of you as you dream your dreams and make your plans.
As Richard and I make our plans for the coming year, we wish you~our family, friends, community and beyond~a productive, wonderful, holy, healthy, healing, and happy 2010!