Last week I sat in front of a blank screen suffering with a bad case of writer’s block. For an aspiring writer there are few moments more intimidating. With each flash the cursor was seemingly taunting me. My coffee began to grow colder when it happened, I discovered my 2020 planner. With my curiosity sparked, I flipped through the first few pages. There I found a list of personal goals, a few resolutions, and my plans for the first few months of the year.

Much of what appeared on the list was left unattainable due to the unforeseeable circumstances. Circumstances that altered the course of human history. That might be a little dramatic but it makes me feel better. I can hardly remember writing that list the first week of the year. That seems like ten years ago. Professional and personal goals were interrupted as the pandemic controlled the year. Not all was lost though, I did learn a few lessons that I found worth sharing.

The first lesson – more affirmed than learned – was that life happens to everyone. John Lennon once said, “Life happens while you are busy making plans.” I can not think of a more fitting theme to sum up the year that was. As life, or a version of it, began happening those lists became a source of anxiety for me. My ambitious plans became just items on a page because of the circumstances. Once reality set in I was forced to readjust my goals.

This year I have settled for a less ambitious list. It occurred to me that I was trying to achieve so much I did not do any of it well. These challenges taught me to set fewer more realistic goals. My list of goals would often fill up more quickly than my time capacity. That has caused many goals in my life left undone. I have resolved that I would rather do a few things well than a lot of things poorly. If you are like me your ability to fulfill resolutions often meets struggle. Setting realistic smaller goals fuels a sense of accomplishment that can be an inspiration to achieve more.

Last year I also learned the joy of self-sufficiency. In pursuit of frugality, I planted a garden, prepared more homecooked meals, and began to purge the stuff that I didn’t need. Working from home has given me the opportunity to carve out time to improve my culinary skills. Cooking has always given me a sense of accomplishment. Recently, I have even begun experimenting with baking homemade bread. My elders would probably laugh at the level of excitement that fills the air when a recipe actually works. I was introduced to new skills that I never knew I had. The journey has given me a deeper appreciation for those of you who do these things as a part of your routine. I have more that I want to learn and improve. Perhaps in the new year I will explore the art of canning.

Perhaps the blank page isn’t so intimidating at all. Perhaps the blank page, like the New Year, is an invitation to create, to imagine, and to reflect on the lessons that have been learned. It is an invitation to embark on a new journey with plans and ambitions but also being ok if those things go unaccomplished. Such is life, right?

The New Year presents to us all a blank page. What we chose to create out of it, is really up to us.

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