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  • Writer's pictureEric Knabel

Thoughts From Six Feet Away: a New Year, a New Start!

After a hiatus that lasted much longer than I expected, I am back! What a better time to do so than to celebrate the calendar turning toward 2023. The new year – a time for renewal, a time to commit to the things we failed to live up to in the previous year. I saw a quote the other day (on a sarcastic comment daily calendar) that said, “I can’t believe it’s been a year since I failed to become a better person.” Why do we make big promises to ourselves, only to come crashing to the Earth at the first sign of adversity?

I’ll admit, I’m in that crowd. I accomplished a few of the goals I set for 2022, but not nearly enough. For the sake of full disclosure, I’m ambitious. I always believe that the great thing can happen. Does that open me up for disappointment? Most certainly. In fact, some people I know won’t make plans for the new year at all, for fear of the big letdown. I guess I’ve always approached it from the standpoint that even if I take two steps toward my goal, it will have been better than not starting at all. In fact, I’m shocked at how many people are surprised that I set goals for the new year at all. I think some people are just so locked into survival mode that they just can’t seem to see much farther than the 24 hours or the 7 days in front of them. When teaching my son to drive, the ride was somewhat jerky in the beginning, until I reminded him that you don’t look at what’s just beyond the hood: you extend your vision to the horizon, so you don’t have to make as many corrections. He gained insight into driving, and I didn’t have to shotgun Dramamine.

Our lives aren’t all that different. Obviously, we need to deal with what’s in front of us, but if we don’t look to the horizon on occasion, we will have to make a lot more adjustments along the way. It sounds intuitive, but we should always know where we’re going before we leave. Why don’t we apply this to our own lives, rather than just when we know we need to go somewhere specific, like to the grocery store or to Clearwater Beach for summer vacation? The yearly goal is the destination, the week before us is just the number of miles to the next exit. I guess it goes a long way toward explaining why so many people seem to lack direction, an idea of what their life is about. The common phrase is that people are “stuck in their comfort zone,” but the truth is that they are neither “in the zone” nor “comfortable.” More often than not, it’s not so much about an area of comfort than it is a familiar place.

Not to mention, there is another aspect to this. Our society pounds into our heads from an early age that failure is to be avoided at all costs. Most don’t strive for greater things out of the fear of failure. After all, there are plenty of spectators out there who aren’t in the game, pointing out where this person stumbled or that person erred. (If you don’t believe me, go to a fan message board for your favorite team after a loss). We fear the criticism and, more importantly, we fear how our failures will damage how we see ourselves. After all, we are our own worst critics. But what if we moved away from the mindset that failure is catastrophic and instead embraced its potential transformative power? As I’ve told my kids, you learn nothing by beating a video game on easy mode! I hear the words “I’m not comfortable doing that” an awful lot. Discomfort is the arena where growth happens. Embrace it.

One more thing…I refuse to utter the word “resolution.” To me, resolutions are half-hearted attempts to maybe, possibly, potentially make a change if it’s not too hard or uncomfortable. Resolutions doom most of us to failure, and it becomes a self-deprecating joke at the end of the year when we don’t measure up. Nowhere is this more apparent than the gym, where the resolution crowd is the bane of the existence of the regular gym-goer. I was getting changed last night after my workout when a guy came into the locker room with a container of pre-workout powder. Nothing unusual about that, until he scooped out a serving of the stuff and launched it into his mouth, dry. He then chased it with water, got up, and walked out. I doubt I’ll see him past January 19th.

Set your goals for the year. Be bold. One of my goals for the year is to look back on my life and think of the things I’ve done to make life easier. I’ll share them here, one at a time, over the next few weeks. With any luck, someone benefits from my personal “life hacks.” Continue striving for great things! As always, be excellent to each other, and…

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