Hope springs eternal.

Christmas has mushroomed into the ultimate retail and e-commerce marketing holiday when gift-giving and generosity know no budgetary bounds. Making loved ones happy at any price is a subliminal theme. It tends to dwarf all other holidays. Falling only a week later on the calendar, New Year’s has its own marketing themes, however, from the celebratory (opportunities to push food, drink, restaurants, hotel packages) to the redemptive (better living next year through diets and health clubs).

It's that "new you" time of year again.

It's that "new you" time of year again.

The new year is always a great moment for reflection, and as such an underrated holiday like Thanksgiving. Most of us aren’t in love with the passage of time and are prone to hear the clock ticking, which is a great motivator for resolutions and to make the incoming year really count. Fortunately, most of us are optimists and welcome this opportunity, although execution and tenacity are separate challenges.

Here’s a suggestion for the first morning of 2011. Take a hard look in the mirror. I don’t mean to do a wrinkle count or gut check. That means you are only seeing yourself in reflection. Look harder into the eyes of the person staring back at you. Ignore the red from the night before and see if you can gauge the inner you.  In taking this measure, ask yourself some hard questions.

How about a soul check in addition to the gut check?

How about a soul check in addition to the gut check?

Do I usually put the needs of others before myself? How often do I put myself in the place of others to understand their challenges? How many things can I do on a daily basis to be a contributing member of society vs. a taker? Do I expend most of my energy blaming others when there are many contributions I can make that will make the world a better place? Is my focus of every waking moment to enrich and entertain myself?

Most of the economic mess of the last several years stems from people at all levels of society making bad choices based on always looking out for number one. It hasn’t been a pretty sight. Lots of hard choices lie ahead for all of us, but it begins with being able to make eye contact with yourself and be proud of who is looking back.

Happy new year. All the best for 2011 and beyond.

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