The beginning of any year is weighted down with expectations. What will you leave behind in the old year, good or bad? What will you do in the year to come? What will you accomplish, and how much will you drive yourself crazy with fears of failure or not getting as far as you want to go toward your goals?
The pressure is on to make resolutions. We will be constantly reminded that we’re likely to drop those resolutions by the end of January. We can determine some goals, but it’s probably best to keep those goals to ourselves. Or, if you’re like me, conveniently forget we ever set them.
As I look out at the winter landscape beyond my window, with so much appearing dead that is only dormant, it occurs to me that neither resolutions nor ambitious goals seem helpful. I don’t mind taking stock, mulling over what I’d like to accomplish by the end of 2017. Even that simple task is not often easy, especially since 2016 was a tough year for many of us. Our family ended it by losing our quirky cat Frida—also known as Frida K, Frida Kahlo, sometimes Frida Katherine. Every morning I’d hear the click of her little paws as she ran to greet me before I’d even wiped the sleep from my eyes. Grieving takes time.
I move into 2017 with a couple of helpful tools that have replaced resolutions. I set weekly goals and give myself the flexibility to move them to the next week. I follow the advice I once heard someone say—don’t make to-do lists without also scheduling the items to be done. And I learned from a friend about “personal Kanban” boards–using post it notes on a board to indicate the no more than 2-3 things at a time to concentrate on. It’s a strategy that works better for me than multi-tasking. If I make only one resolution, it’s to finally finish the novel I’ve put aside for almost a decade, a resolution I feel pretty good about fulfilling.
I began the new year with something mysterious, something that gave me hope for the future. I concede I may have imagined it, but I’m almost positive that I twice heard little cat feet dropping onto the wood floor in the early morning hours. And once when I was sorting the day’s mail, I saw the fleeting image of a small black cat dart past my feet and underneath the table where Frida always hung out. Of course it could be my mind playing tricks on me, but I’d like to think otherwise.
I plan to sense little Frida sitting beside me as I put the finishing touches on my long overdue novel. Will that happen? I’m not sure. But one thing I do know for sure—there’s still room for mystery in the coming new year.