“To thine own self be true” ~ William Shakespeare
I’ve always felt like Shakespeare’s words from Hamlet that Polonius gave his son were appropriate for the start of a new year. As we reflect back on our accomplishments, as well as our setbacks from the previous year, and look forward to the new goals and expectations we have for the coming year, it is important above all else that we be true to ourselves. Each new year is a new beginning. It is a new chance to be true to yourself – to firmly become cognizant of what really matters to us and to make it happen.
In today’s social structure, it is easy to look outside ourselves for definition. I urge you not to make that mistake as it is inaccurate. Let me explain what I mean by that. When we meet someone new, we don’t ask, “Who are you?” or “What is the character of your makeup?” or “How do you like to describe yourself to others?” We ask, “What do you do?” then begin defining that person by what they do for a living. For instance, if they tell us they are a doctor, we might subconsciously elevate their status. If they tell us they cook hamburgers for a living, we might see them as less than they truly are. After making these assumptions, we might find out the “doctor” is a rug doctor who cleans carpets for a living and the burger cooker owns a chain of restaurants and is the next Ray Krok. Pre-conceived notions about others are rarely accurate, just as the pre-conceived notions you have about yourself are probably not accurate. Look inside yourself. That inside definition of you is far more important than the outside definition.
No matter what you are on the outside; store manager, athlete, doctor, mechanic, waitress, it doesn’t matter – if your character is flawed – you will ultimately fail. You must repair the inside before you can make changes on the outside. It’s like getting a cut on your hand. The healing doesn’t begin on the outside, it begins on the inside when your body sends an army of white blood cells and antibodies to fight off any infection and begin mending the damaged tissue. That’s why Shakespeare’s words are crucial as we make plans for our goals and expectations for the new year. Knowing who you are on the inside enables you to become the person you want to be on the outside.
I have a passage from one of my favorite books by Andy Andrews called Mastering the 7 Decisions that I had matted and framed. This book is about getting the most out of the 7 decisions Andrew’s first introduced in an earlier book, The Traveler’s Gift. The passage hangs on the wall in my library so I can see it daily. Just as I use it to begin each day, I post it here so you may use it to begin a new year and a new beginning. I hope it inspires you to be true to yourself in the coming year.
I’m going to be the parent I’ve always wanted to be, the son or daughter I’ve always wanted to be, and I’ll be the greatest friend in the world. I’ll be the leader people look to in times of distress.
My destiny is assured. I’ve accepted responsibility for where I am, and I understand what I need to do to move forward in my life. The buck stops with me.
I’m on a constant search for wisdom through my associations and the books I read. I understand that a year from now, through the people with whom I associate, the books I read and the choices I have made, I can actually be a different person. I am moving into my destiny with a servant’s spirit.
I choose to act now. I am a person of action. I am seizing this moment.
I have a decided heart, and I will move; my destiny is assured! I will move toward that destiny with a smile on my face because I choose to be happy.
I have a light heart because I have forgiven everyone who has offended me. And most important, I have forgiven myself. Life has truly begun again, because I understand the principles that will guide me through the second half.
The second half is where I win! The future begins right now. I will persist without exception.