Quick, what were your last year’s new year’s resolutions? Exactly. I don’t remember mine either. It’s a good bet that all the resolutions we ever made were meant to ensure our happiness. Become more fit, read more, socialize more, make more money, grow our business. The more resolutions we make, the less we remember them, much less accomplish them. So, I’d like to offer a suggestion for this coming year.
But first, a little personal history. My 61 years have taught me what’s most important to my happiness. In my 20’s, it was career growth. In my 30’s, it was marrying and having a family. In my 40’s, it was about being the best husband and father I could be, while still growing my income. In my 50’s and post-divorce, it was about finding the right woman and launching my business.
In my earlier years, I worked the 60-hour workweeks and pulled all-nighters. I partied and went to Gator games in an RV, traveled to Europe, played golf and did couples night with a hired driver for the night on South Beach. I gave my all to raising two great kids, including being chief of their Adventure Guides groups which as an aside, I cannot recommend enough for parents of young kids so do it).
But as the end of my 50’s approached, with my kids all but grown and more time on my hands, a different priority emerged. By then, I had come clear on the kind of people I wanted in my life and moved on from those whose company didn’t nourish me. I started making deliberate time to be with my peeps and I dropped everything to make lunches with my best friends, even if it wasn’t convenient that day.
Further, more times than not, I was the one who reached out to make plans because it was important to me and I wanted to make it happen. Quite simply, my people became my top priority because more than anything else, time with them brought me more happiness and satisfaction than anything else. I even threw a grand 60th birthday party to let them know that.
This is what years will do for us. They lure us into one way of thinking in our early years only to reveal what’s truly important later in life. My fellow 50 and over comrades all grapple with our fantasies about how the rest of our lives will be. Everyone wants to travel, grow old with the right mate, be healthy, have sex, and have grandchildren. After years of hyperventilating from racing around raising families and climbing the ladder, we want to enjoy a big exhale now.
All these desires speak to one overarching goal for the rest of our lives. We don’t want to have regrets. And that brings me to my suggested resolution for this year. Ready?
It’s to live the lives we want to live so we don’t look back one day filled with regrets. To do that, we need our priorities in order so that we spend our time and money in ways that insulate us from the most disturbing regrets later in life. For me, the worst regret I can imagine is too little time spent with my kids and closest friends and family. No trip or business venture is more important to me than that. So, I intend to spend more time and money on being with them than on anything else.
What priority will insulate you from your worst-imagined regret? I encourage you to protect yourself by picking that one priority that will nourish you more than any other and make that your resolution this year.
Listen to this song, Yesterday When I Was Young, to remind yourself how sad it would be to let time slip through your fingers and look back one day with regrets. If you’re young, heed these words from Charles Aznavour’s heartbreaking lyric.
Yesterday, when I was young So many drinking songs were waiting to be sung So many wayward pleasures lay in store for me And so much pain my dazzled eyes refused to see
I ran so fast that time and youth at last ran out I never stopped to think what life was all about And every conversation I can now recall Concerned itself with me, me and nothing else at all
With our top priority chosen, let’s commit ourselves to removing the hurdles that stand in our way from living the life we want to live. Let’s remove them this year so that this and every year hereafter we will have no regrets.
Please accept my warmest wishes for a gratifying holiday and new year with your closest peeps and a rewarding year ahead.