Early on New Year's Eve, before the festivities began, we dropped by a local cafe in order to perform our annual year-end ritual of reflection and looking forward. Although the specific exercises have evolved, the objective of our ritual remains the same – reflect on the past year and determine themes for the year ahead. Provided that we have the previous year's entries with us, we'll even roughly compare the them to the current year's actual results.
This is admittedly very geeky personal development stuff, but it works for us. We've found that in order to make an idea a reality in our lives, we've had to serve it some diligence by discussing it, planning it, and acting on it. We figure that we either make a process out of it or we rely solely on serendipity and the winds of chance.
Our ritual began on New Year's Eve 2000 at Caffe Trieste in North Beach, San Francisco. That year, we each drafted a list of 20 things we'd hoped to accomplish before we died. Sounds like an easy exercise, doesn't it? Try it out for yourself. The first five or ten items come quickly, but the last few are tough. Still too easy? Compare your list with your long-term partner's list and consider how compatible your hopes and dreams are.
We had already performed a bit of reflection earlier this year, so this time we focused mainly on the year ahead. The result isn't a set of New Year's Resolutions but rather themes or general directions we'd like to re-emphasize, improve upon, or incorporate into our lives in the coming year.
Oh yeah, about the rat. This year, our ritual ended with a large rat peering at Dan from a ledge and running under our table at the cafe. Normally, something like this would be met with disgust, but as the Chinese Year of the Rat is approaching, we figured that maybe it's a good omen instead.
Another cafe goer took in the whole scene as he paid his bill and suggested “A rat. Good luck!”
Like many things in life, it's all in how you choose to look at it.