Every New Year brings plenty of hope and anxiety. Juxtaposed with omnipresent year-in-review specials plastered across every media source from television to columns to podcasts, it seems both are justified. And both are likely to be fulfilled. The trick lies in altering the spectrum balance, even in the smallest bit, toward hope.
That’s why we make resolutions.
Many don’t make it through January, much less the end of the year. But the intention can at least put us on the path. Some focus on goals; I like more/less options. So here are a few resolutions that may help in 2023:
1. Be a little more kind. Sure, it is a little amorphous, but it is the kind of resolution that we can exercise every day. It can be in big ways or small ones. Some people will spend countless hours this year helping unhoused neighbors find a warm place to sleep. Others will just remember to thank our restaurant server more often. Kindness doesn’t even require a word; a simple smile will usually do the trick. Most important, there is no limitation on kindness. You will never be too kind or run out of opportunities to try again.
2. Focus a little less on political discord. This is a tough one for me. I am a self-described politics fanatic. Not only do I regularly write about the field, but I also work with campaigns and consume massive amounts of media on the topic. It is not helpful that partisanship divides continue to split our populace more each day. While the midterm elections may be behind us, that only means the next presidential election cycle is upon us. In that context, it is easy to be drawn into the discord. Resist that urge. Beneath the postures and soundbites, there are still good works done everyday that deserve more of our focus.
For example, it would be easy to get caught up in the political machinations surrounding immigrants bused into Denver. That would ignore the tremendous response from the city of Denver and state of Colorado. Working with community groups, both have remained focused on helping desperate, scared people. And there are plenty of people who will need that same commitment to help over the coming year. When we aren’t focused on fighting, there is a great amount of good that can be achieved.
3. Add in more face-to-face time. For me, 2022 seemed like a year of adjustment. In 2020 we were plunged into a disconnected world. Each of us survived in literal bubbles trying to replace our social interactions with Zoom meetings and online gatherings. Throughout 2021 we rode a rollercoaster of vaccinations and variants that led to societal whiplash. It wasn’t until 2022 that we began a wholesale return to the world. Yet, years of physical separation left indelible marks.
While I enjoy the efficiencies of a virtually connected world (getting to court is much easier!), I realized I became too reliant on it. Meeting with clients, negotiating with partners, dinner with friends are usually all better done in person than online. In 2020 I made a resolution to host a board game night once every month. Obviously COVID threw a wrench into those plans. I think it is time to resurrect that resolution. And a few more just like it.
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4. Read more. I am thinking in terms of books for enjoyment. It is something I used to do more often and that my wife does daily. Sometimes that is hard when I have legal briefs, textbooks and news articles to sift through. Of course, reading my columns and the excellent articles provided in the Colorado Sun is also a fantastic idea!
5. Take it day by day. Looking out a full year seems too daunting. It feels like any slip-up could ruin a set plan. Don’t let it. While our hopes and anxieties may be forefront with the New Year, every day is its own opportunity to start fresh.
Mario Nicolais is an attorney and columnist who writes on law enforcement, the legal system, health care and public policy. Follow him on Twitter: @MarioNicolaiEsq.
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