But there’s a problem with this annual ritual: all the focus on improvementtends to obscure what you, your employees, and your company have alreadyachieved. Wouldn’t it be nice to take a few moments and instead of focusing ongaps, focus on how full your life--and work--already are?
I’d like to take credit for this idea, but it’s something I learnedrather accidentally a year ago when I was in San Francisco visiting my familyfor the holidays. It was 70 degrees outside and I decided to work on my New Year’sresolutions while hiking with my best friend, Dennis. The day went somethinglike this:
Dennis and I drive north across the Golden Gate Bridge to Mount Tamalpais. Westop at a ranger station and ask the nice man in the green uniform where a goodhike might be.
"Well," he says, pointing at a wooden map posted nearby, "this here’sa pretty four-mile path that ends at the little town of Stinson Beach. There,you can do a little shopping before hiking back up."
"Pardon me, sir. Did you say shopping? On a hike?" Dennis glares at me.
(I make resolution #1: Stop being so sarcastic.)
Dennis and I trek into the woods and he begins to tell me, in great detail,about all the unsolved murders that have taken place on Mount Tamalpais.Hangings. Stabbings. Execution-style slayings. Is it my imagination or is Dennisenjoying this story?
(Resolution #2: Be nicer to Dennis next year.)
We emerge from the woods onto a sunny hillside from which we can see miles ofbright blue coastline. Optimism returns. We’re two happy people skipping downyellow grass in the sunshine. We’re healthy and in the prime of life. We’rethe opening shot of a commercial for allergy medication.
(Resolution #3: See #1)
We arrive at Stinson Beach an hour later. Squinting into the sun, Dennislooks back toward Mount Tam. "Looks like a long way up," he says, and Iagree. I’m hot. And tired. And whiny.
(Resolution. #4: No matter how good the Cabernet is, stop at one bottle thenight before a hike.)
After promising each other we will never tell anyone what we are about to do,we search for a taxi to take us back up the mountain. There’s none around.
We walk into a nearby post office and ask the nice postman in the blueuniform where we might get a cab. The nice postman throws his head back andhowls laughter toward the ceiling. "You might get a cab from the city to comehere," he says, wiping the tears from his eyes. "But that’ll cost ya anarm and a leg." I ask Dennis if the investigators working on the Mount Tammurders ever mentioned anything about a man in a blue uniform.
(Resolution #5: Order stamps by mail.)
We back away from the counter and bump into a woman holding a canvas, floralprint shopping bag. "Do you two need a ride?" she asks.
"Here," she says, grabbing a yellow change of address card and thrustingit toward us. "Make a sign. Someone’ll pick you up in no time."
"You mean--hitchhike?" Dennis asks, looking as if she’s just asked himto strip naked and deliver the mail.
Resolution #6: Make peace with your mother. Again.
"Of course that’s what she means," I say, as I grab the yellow card andwrite the name of the road where our car is parked. As I darken in the letters,I think how my mother would kill me if she knew I was hitchhiking. Never mindthat I’m now in my forties and way stronger than she is.
(Resolution #6: Make peace with your mother. Again.)
We go outside, I hand Dennis the sign, and before his arm is fully extended agray Toyota hatchback screeches to a halt beside us.
"Get in," shouts a thin woman with long straight brown hair. She’s nota day over 25 but her order is so commanding that Dennis and I do as we’retold. I wriggle into the back seat and push aside file folders, empty waterbottles and several colorful Hacky Sack balls. "I’m Surya," she says.Surya steps on the gas.
Believing it’s important to learn everything you can about a driver to whomyou just entrusted your life, I ask Surya what she does for living.
"I’m a counselor and performance artist," she explains. "I helppeople experience their truths through dance. Tonight, I’m performing in SantaRosa."
"I see," I respond, though of course I don’t see at all. "What willyou be doing exactly?"
"I don’t know yet," Surya confesses. "I won’t know till I step onstage. I let the energy of the audience shape my movements. That way, my dancewill be a truthful reflection of the collective consciousness of those present. Their truths will become my truths which will become our truths."
(Resolution #7: Never hike in Marin County again.)
As Surya careens up the winding mountain road, she talks about her work andher passion. "You can just tell when someone’s not in touch with their truthbecause the atmosphere around them smells."
(Resolution #8: Get in touch with your truths.)
"And you know what’s saddest of all," Surya adds, as she pulls upalongside our car. "Most people are so focused on what’s wrong and what’slacking and what needs improving in their lives that they never stop to realizethe blessings and wealth they already have. If more people realized how goodtheir truths really are, they wouldn’t worry so much about self-improvement.Their lives would be better naturally." She stops the car and turns to look atus. "Get it?"
We do. Or at least I do. Dennis is too busy thanking God we weren’t pickedup by an axe murderer. And as we drive across the bridge toward San Francisco, Imake one final resolution for the new year: Stop resolving to improve and bethankful for what you’ve already got, including people who can teach youthings when you least expect it.
Workforce, January 2003, pp. 20-24 -- Subscribe Now!
Other columns byShari:
- A Higher Cause
- Infections and Inadequacies
- Befriending Barbie
- The Remodel Role Model
- Musing Her Way Through Life