Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

New year, new me: How many times have you heard or seen this quote since the new year began? I often think of New Year’s resolutions as promises of a better diet, frequenting the gym more, getting out of my comfort zone and even reading more books.

Over the holidays, I asked my niece if she had any resolutions. She was unfamiliar with this idea, so after briefly explaining it as “a promise you make to yourself that you wish to keep all year,” she began to come up with some resolutions of her own.

During this conversation she told me she promised herself to make the A-Honor roll in school. After this initial resolution, the conversation took a turn I was not expecting.

She followed up with saying she hopes people can stop bullying each other and try to be the best adults possible when they grow up. This got me thinking about how we approach New Year’s resolutions. While most of us will aspire to eat better or read more books, I feel there’s something fundamentally essential to starting a new year off right and that is reflection.

With each year that passes, we are fortunate to reflect on the events of the previous 12 months. Our achievements and our struggles all get lumped into a single collective thought that we’ll inevitably label 2018. From time to time, we’ll reach into our minds and elaborate on stories from the past year, the end result always showing growth.

As the ambiance of the holidays lingers into January, there remains a measurable feeling of optimism that we all share. A new year, a fresh start.

I’d like to challenge you to reflect on the person you are today. Did you keep your resolutions from last year? Did you have a great accomplishment like making the A-Honor roll? What did it take to get where you are today?

I’m sure you can easily tell me a story about how hard finals were, or how difficult it was to transition into college from high school. Good news, you did it! You made it through finals and are ready to start a new semester.

The idea of reflection is paramount to our growth as young adults. While it’s easy to get caught up in the rush of life at times, we cannot forgo this fairly easy idea to maintain a constant balance moving forward.

My niece’s sudden realization of her own importance in the greater role of societal morality is the perfect example. That brought good thoughts and good feelings. What I took from this conversation with a nine-year-old was that we can do better. Not only for ourselves but for everyone around us.

The old forgotten story of “pay it forward” should be restored and it starts with the individual: You. So while I do plan to read another 50 books this year as one of my New Year’s resolutions, I also plan to pay more compliments to strangers.

I challenge you for every resolution you make for yourself, consider one that will impact another person in a more positive manner. Let us respect ourselves this new year and bring a new meaning to the quote “new year, new me.”

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