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This year, I’ve learned an important lesson. It’s easy to say I am only on this earth for a short while; the challenge I face is what I should make of that time. What I’ve learned: look forward and not be the same person I was the year before. And this is about simple choices.

This is not to say I will change my values or what defines my personality and character—unless those things have a negative affect on my happiness and ability to live my life sincerely.

Some people call these resolutions. But these resolutions, to me, are means to a personal evolution. I’ve often bargained with myself about what I have the courage and ability to achieve. What if the answer is anything? I made a deal with myself that if I wanted something, I needed to be the force that mobilized my future so I could have it. If I wasn’t busy living, I was just busy dying, I believe, is the expression.

And, so.

I will let go of the ambiguous, loose ends in my life. These are the people who do not understand compassion and reliability. These are people that impose shame and negativity. If these people cannot be helped or learned from, then they need more time (see below). And these are also the projects or people that deplete me.  The ones I said yes to just because I didn’t say no.

I will learn to say no. Saying yes doesn’t always make people happy if it is in haste and is said without faith. I will be transparent. I will take challenges, because I love them, and I will accept failures, as they are lessons. But I will not fail myself by saying I can do things that will make me unhappy. So I will say no. A supportive no.

I’ve always said I was comfortable saying “I don’t know” but I’d like to really mean that. It’s important to remind myself that I cannot know everything, and to live in question is to live fully. It is important to remember the only true wisdom is in knowing I know nothing. I will accept that.

I will listen more. People are amazing. I want to learn from those people, as if to collect them and our experiences together. And furthermore: I will surround myself with extraordinary people. I will look for them in even the most unexpected places and be open so I can collect as many people, souls, warm hearts and mentors as my ears can listen to. And this also means accepting the flaws and pain they may carry and learning from it. There really is a reason for everything; even the people who hurt me, or I’ve lost—or both. These people and the experiences and feelings attached to them will not be overlooked, as they are a part of this collection. I will always say “yes” to these opportunities.

I will accept that many new experiences worth collecting will come with discomfort. I will say yes to these experiences, because why not? I will remind myself that the discomfort is just fear in not knowing, and the unknown could make me happier to exist. I will step into discomfort without expectation or judgment because who am I to make assumptions? I will be fair to myself and not run from possibilities but run to them. I will say “yes, and now, please,” to these opportunities.

I will remind myself that what time will not fix, I must. Time heals and separates rage from rationality but if it grows over time like a mold, it must be exposed. Broken, examined and exterminated. I am solely responsible for giving meaning to my life and living it passionately and sincerely—living authentically. So if something in my life is not healed by the passing of time, then the only thing that can save me is myself. This is the most important one. A mantra–with patience, this one can take hold with spiritual power.

As I accumulate time, I will accumulate questions, and possibly answers, and both will often challenge me, ravage me, entice me and terrify me. And I will remember this when I forget how to face them. I will remember that everything comes down to simple choices about what makes me happy. Knowing (and not knowing) and accepting that the accumulation of time and my own personal evolution depends on my choices, each year or whenever, gives me some peace.

And I don’t know about you, but I needed that.