The New Year is exciting. It is a time of anticipation and hope for the year to come and a reflection on the year that has passed. There is always some sadness for the loss of lives of friends, family and celebrities.
We have lost Ronald Reagan, Kirk Fordice, Susan Sontag, Rodney Dangerfield, Larry Brown, Reggie White and a host of others. There is sadness in crime, poverty, the loss of American soldiers and Iraqi civilians in the Iraqi war.
Perhaps the greatest sadness of this past year is the natural disaster produced by a tsunami. More than a 150,000 men, women and children have died and millions are homeless. It has been described as the greatest natural disaster known to man.
However, there are weddings, births, triumphs, compassion and the enduring human experience that prevail. I enjoy the nostalgic feeling I get when I reflect on the year 2004. It was a good year for my family. I love new beginnings. The new year provides excitement and hope.
I love the triumphs of man — like Lance Armstrong’s unprecedented sixth win of the Tour de France bike race after surviving cancer. He was named U.S. Male Athlete of the Year for 2004 — his second time to be given that honor. It is an unbelievable accomplishment for a cancer patient who is competing against some of the world’s greatest athletes.
What about those resolutions?
I doubt the value of New Year’s resolutions. Most are quickly broken, leaving one to feel inadequate because they failed. However, there is much value in planning and goal setting. As I have for a number of years, I will set goals for the New Year.
These goals will be specific, revolving around health, finances, relationships, recreation, reading and spiritual development. Some I will achieve and others only in part, but they will be reminders and guides for the entire year.
For 2005, I am adding some subjective goals, too. The first is a goal of experiencing gratitude: gratitude for my parents, family and friends; gratitude for health, safety and well being; gratitude for my standard of living; gratitude for living in the United States, and gratitude for the era in which I have lived.
Family and friends are the essence of living. I vow to value them and be more grateful. I have been spared natural disasters, accidents, crime and diseases. For that I will be more grateful. Compared to the Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and others who measure their wealth in the billions, I am a pauper. Yet, when I read that 80% of the households in the world do not enjoy the luxury of a refrigerator, I realize that I am rich by world standards, and I will become more grateful.
A few other things
When reading of the people who live in societies controlled by religious theocracies or dictators, I will become more grateful for our freedoms. When I read the histories of our past, I will be more grateful for living in the most exciting and prosperous era of the world. My hope is that our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren will enjoy the same.
My goals also include becoming more compassionate, less judgmental and more tolerant.
Hopefully, I will achieve them, at least, in part.
Have a Happy New Year!
Archie King, LPC, is a human resources consultant who lives in Madison. His column appears from time to time in the Mississippi Business Journal. E-mail him at