Happy New Year! I hope you had a wonderful holiday season. Christmas is a wonderful time of year, time to be with your loved ones and a time for laughter and cheer. But it is also a good time to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. Christmas is not simply a commemorative Christian holiday. It is not simply celebrating with family and friends. It is not simply a time to give gifts and to be a giving person for a few days out of the year. The Christmas holiday can certainly be all these things but it can be so much more. No matter what your religious beliefs, this time of year can be a time to reflect on our lives. Every year, I am particularly moved by the song “Happy Christmas,” by Celine Dion.

So, this is Christmas and what have you done
Another year over, a new one just begun . . . .

Every year when I hear this song, it touches my soul in a very personal way, and it always gets me thinking about my life. What meaningful things have I done over the last year? Certainly my accomplishments and goal achievements come to mind, but it is actually much more than that. It is about who I’ve become and what I have done for others. Each year it is my goal to become a better person. Health and wellness is something I always need to work on but, equally important, is my goal of becoming the person I want to be. I want to demonstrate my love for my family in many different ways. I want to create beautiful memories for my children and grandchildren that will live on for a lifetime. I want to deepen the relationships I have with my spouse, my family, my friends and others. I want to step into the shoes of others so I can see and feel things from their perspective, experience their world, understand and help them work through challenges and join them as their celebrate their successes. As a life and leadership coach, I want to support my clients to reach their goals, achieve their dreams and, in the process, become their personal and professional best.

There have been a number of self-improvement efforts I’ve made over the years. One that I would like to share because it has had a very positive impact on my life and may on yours too is learning to be present, to live in the present moment, the here and now. Most of us spend the majority of our time focused on either the past or the future. We have 40,000 to 50,000 thoughts entering our minds every day, and as many as 80% of these thoughts are negative. While some past thoughts may be pleasant, many aren’t, and those are the ones we tend to focus on. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness are all emotions that can come from focusing on our past. We hold grudges and, as such, compromise our relationships. Thoughts about the future are also a source of negative emotions. We worry about things that may never happen. Anxiety, tension, stress and worry come from focusing on too much future. To make matters worse, we play these same negative thought patterns over and over and over again in our minds. When we do this, we are escaping the present moment that is our life now. We may be eating a delicious meal or spending time with friends, yet our minds are “miles away,” stressing over a problem at work or replaying for the thousandth time an argument we had with our spouse a few days ago. We don’t fully enjoy the food we’re eating. We don’t really hear what are our friends are saying and we don’t enjoy our time together as much as we could. We’ve lost connection. Our relationships and joy can be seriously compromised. Just think about how much we are missing out on life by not being present. To become present, ask yourself from time to time what you are thinking about, and instantly, you will become present. Note where your mind was. Were you dwelling on something from your past or possibly worried about something in your future?

Have I achieved being the best version of me? No, I have not, but that is the point. It is something we need to continually work on. As I approach the New Year, I think about how I can become a better person to make more of a difference in the world. Change takes time. The New Year is the perfect opportunity for a new start, a new beginning.

So, I invite you to search your soul to see if you are becoming the person you want to be and making the difference you want to make in this world. As the song goes, what have you done? Another year over, a new one just begun. When the Christmas holiday returns in December and we hear the lyrics to “Happy Christmas” again, let’s have something to say about how we’ve been a giving person all year long and how we’ve made a significant difference for others by who we’ve become. The people that mean the most to us, our families, our friends and others, may not remember all our accomplishments but they will remember who we are, how we’ve treated them, and the impact we’ve made in their lives.

Wishing you a year of love, laughter, connection, success, joy and fulfillment!