Lists Aren't Enough

by Sam Melden

I love this time of year.

The week between Christmas and the first day of the New Year is special. Its unwritten sacredness lets everyone get a moment to refresh. We all need to recalibrate a bit. People vacation at different times, even celebrate holidays differently, but for the most part… we all shut down between Christmas and the New Year. It’s wonderful and needed.

What we don’t need, however, is another list. A list of the best music, movies, internet memes or even lists looking back at the best lists.

You’ve seen these lists, right? All over the internet, for the sake of advertising, everyone is looking back and keeping score. We are rating our experiences. Artists and entrepreneurs alike have spent months and years creating and crafting something to offer and at the end of a calendar year people will sum it up in a few sentences and try to compare this app to that one… all for the sake of the list. Well, lists aren’t enough.

Lists aren’t the gateway to true reflection. And reflection is the invitation of this week. Lists attempt to trivialize looking back. When we sum up the past year so we can rank our experiences we cheat ourselves.

Reflection isn’t a consumer good.

The reason I love this week is we all get space to ask good questions. And, if we are willing… we have space to listen and learn. Looking back lets us do that.

Then the New Year arrives. And all we want to do, and all we should do… is look forward and dream. But, imagine the dreaming without the reflecting. Imagine the vision for a future without a deep connection to what we just learned. It’s empty, isn’t it?

We all want to know what our “Best” Nine Instagram photos were for 2015. I get it. But what if we asked a few more questions?

Who did you learn the most from last year?

How are you a different co-worker? A different boss?

Did you lose someone dear to you recently?

How are you better for having known them?

How are you better toward those you know now because you lost them?

What was your biggest victory? Biggest defeat?

How were those two experiences similar?

What is your biggest regret from 2015?

How will you prevent a repeat in 2016?

We can talk about who made the best movie, or who’s album was better — but what does that have to do with you? Reflection is about making space to look at yourself. And with another year in the books there is a lot to take in.

I love this time of year. Here’s to a fantastic 2016!

Also, if you took the time to read this, I want to say… Thank you. I appreciate it. And, I would definitely suggest you read this as well, and perhaps subscribe to everything that comes from On Being. It’s a wonderful source.