New Year’s resolutions are nothing more than a promise made and a promise broken. How many have you actually kept? Sure, there are a few who successfully quit smoking, and some who lost a significant amount of weight. There are the few admirable souls who got off their sofas and completed a marathon, but most of us make the promise and break it sometimes only a couple of weeks into the new year.

I stopped setting new year intentions a few years ago. I swapped out resolutions for personal mantras, and they helped. They served as an anchor while life’s storms tossed me about. I survived quite a lot over the last four years. I lost my mother unexpectedly. My daughter was diagnosed with Bipolar, depression, and anxiety with panic attacks. She was hospitalized twice for suicide attempt. I’ve switched jobs, and I drowned in financial debt paying for my daughter’s medical care. This past year has been a year of healing. It’s been a year of letting go. It’s been a year of painful realizations. It’s been a year of radical acceptance. It’s been a year of sweeping up all the broken pieces of my life, and clearing room for new things, better things, positive things.

I want more joy, more laughter. I want to make more happy memories than all the sad and painful memories of the last four years. I want to stretch, grow, and learn. New Year’s Day is the first page of a 365 page book of life we get to write ourselves. The new year brings 365 new chances, new opportunities, and new choices. Mondays are my favorite day of the week because it’s a new chance to tackle goals, overcome obstacles, and solve problems. New Year’s Day is my favorite day of the year because I release all the old and welcome the new. I’m so excited for 2020. It’s not just a new year but a new decade. It’s the start of new trends in fashion, music, art, and design. It’s new technology that will change how we live, work, and understand our world. There will be new heroes, new records set. There will be history making moments, and we are alive to see it and experience it all.

This year I’ve decided to pursue three personal challenges rather than focus on a mantra. I’m in a better place emotionally, physically, and financially. I want to stretch, and learn, and grow. I’ve given a lot of thought to each of these challenges and each will help me to achieve my three goals.

First, to stretch. When I say I want to stretch what I mean is that I want to accomplish something that seems too hard to do. The kind of thing you hear someone else is doing and think “Wow, that’s awesome.” I do need to lose weight, and I desperately need to exercise. However, I injured my ankle shortly before Christmas and I think it’s going to be awhile before it’s fully healed. This limits the kind of physical activity I can do safely. I can’t do anything that will have a high impact on my ankle. Walking is the most logical choice. It’s low impact and a great way to work the joint and muscles around my ankle. Walking on the treadmill is so boring! Walking around the neighborhood is so uninspiring. Pairing up with someone else is unrealistic. Schedules and life’s demands get in the way. I’ve decided to go to the Detroit Institute of Art once a week and walk 15,000 steps. I love the DIA. I love hearing the music in the Kresage Court. I love the way the light pours into Rivera Court and highlights the Diego Rivera murals. I love the way I feel when I am surrounded by all of that art. Because I live in Oakland County I don’t have to pay admission. Parking is $7. The DIA is a 15-20 minute drive from my home. I’ve done a bit of math, and I figure it will take me roughly three hours to walk 15,000 steps. I’ll set an alarm on my phone, put my earbuds in and turn on some music, and then put my phone away in my pocket. I want to stare at art rather than my phone for three hours. If I walk 15,000 steps every week for 52 weeks, I will have walked 780,000 steps in the DIA. It’s a bit daunting. What if I get sick? What if my ankle worsens? What if the weather is too bad to make the trip into the city? What if I have to travel? There are lots of things that could stop me from reaching 780,000 steps but just because something is hard to do does not mean that it’s impossible. The question isn’t why do it, but rather why not try to do it? The only thing stopping me is me. I want to stretch beyond my limitations and accomplish something I can be proud of.

I want to learn in 2020. I love to learn about new people, places, history, science. I’ve decided to study the lives of 12 people who changed the world and learn 10 lessons from each I can apply to my own life. I’ve created a list of innovators and inventors who have changed the way we live, work, and understand our world. I spent an entire afternoon developing my list. Hundreds of people have changed the world. Some in big ways, and some in small ways. Some were terrible people who did terrible things. Great things that changed the world but terrible nonetheless. For example, Hitler changed the world by murdering millions in the holocaust and redrawing lines on world maps when he invaded other countries. I do not want to get inside his head. I do not want to learn anything more about him or others like him than I already do. So, I decided to narrow my list to those whose contributions helped to move humanity forward. In creating this list I learned my first lesson. When you compile a list of all the people who changed the world the men far outnumber the women. For much of human history women have been excluded from education and opportunity and our voices silenced by those in power. There are many women who made remarkable contributions to history and I think next year I am going to study them. For now, I chose 12 men whose inventions and innovations changed the world and pushed humanity into a newer more modern era.

Finally, I’ve chosen 12 famous and popular things to do in Detroit that I still have not done. These are the places and experiences that you read about when you Google Detroit. I’ve lived here for seven years now and still haven’t done them. The first three years I lived here I threw myself into my new career. I didn’t make time for these experiences and that’s something I regret. Nights spent bent over my laptop staring at excel spreadsheets do not make for wonderful lifetime memories. The last four years have been consumed by illness, fear, loss, anger, and grief. The problems that created all of that negativity are gone. I’m ready to step into the light, experience new things, make happy memories, and let those new experiences help me to grow as a person.

So there it is. My 2020 personal challenges are

1. Walk 780,000 steps in the Detroit Institute of Art

2. Study 12 people who changed the world and learn 10 lessons from each that I can apply to my own life.

3. Do 12 things in Detroit that I haven’t done yet.

I’ll share my progress on these challenges with you. I would love to hear what your 2020 goals are. Please share them in the comment section below.


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