Don’t Walk Into 2017 with a Blank Stare and an Empty Cart

Shopping cart with blurred people and store

I went out to finish my Christmas shopping last Sunday.

I like to think I am an intelligent person, and then I do something like that.

It was pouring, pelting, teaming rain and … IT WAS THE SUNDAY BEFORE CHRISTMAS.

I work at home.  I live a few blocks from downtown.  I can go shopping any day of the week.  I can walk to go shopping.  Instead I chose one of the busiest shopping days of the year, and decided to drive because it was pouring rain.

I circled downtown about 10 times having no luck getting a parking spot that was any closer than my home.  Then I came up with another smart idea—drive to the shopping plaza because there might be something I want to pick up at Marshals.  There’s always parking at a plaza.


I finally found a spot at the very edge of the lot and hiked it over to the store—thankfully the rain took a break from pouring and pelting.  I got inside and realized I didn’t have a plan for this store.  I only came to the plaza because I couldn’t find a parking spot downtown, where the things I wanted to buy were.  But since I was already there I decided to walk around and see if something caught my eye.

As I began to wander aimlessly through the store I first noted how crowded it was with people seemingly desperate to get their shopping done.  Then I noticed that many of the shoppers looked exactly like how I felt–blank stares and pushing a cart around with nothing in it.

What the hell am I doing in here—I don’t even know what I want!  Almost dizzy from sensory overload, I hightailed it back to the mess of a parking lot.

I was shopping, but I didn’t know what I was shopping for.  Then it occurred to me—if I am not clear about what I want, then the actions I take aren’t likely to produce any pleasing results.  They’ll take up time and energy, like wandering through a crowed store filled with things that I could possibly want, but likely I’ll end up with nothing in my cart.

I find that with everything in my life these days.  If I am not clear on my end result (like going to Marshals with nothing in mind to buy), or if I’m not sure the end result is what I want (I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to please other people, or doing what I think others think I should be doing), then I inevitably spin my wheels, take action that I don’t enjoy, and find myself anxious over my completely uncertain future.

OK, we all know that our futures are uncertain.

But if you have a clear destination, a place that you want to go, you can begin to travel toward it in a joyful way.

So where do you want to go in this new year?  I’m not talking about making new year’s resolutions.  As I feel compelled to share every year, I think new year’s resolutions are bullshit!  To me, new year’s resolutions are a list of things you think you should be doing.  I invite you, as 2016 comes to a close, to think about what you want your life to look like in the year to come, get clear about it, and then take meaningful action from there.

Don’t walk into 2017 with a blank stare and an empty cart.  Be thoughtful about what gifts you would like for yourself, and shop accordingly.

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