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New Year’s Day. How many of us reflect on this time as a report card or annual job review?

We’ve passed the benchmark in time, another lap around the sun, and what have we done?  

There’s certainly nothing wrong with reflection — it often provides the groundwork for a course of corrective action. Some highlights are out of our control, such as the death of a family member or a natural disaster, or the birth of a new relative or winning the lottery. Other key elements may be well within our grasp, such as reaching financial goals, working toward a promotion, or completion of a degree or project. 

Inevitably, reflection offers a mix of feel-good items and regrets. Regardless of how much or how little we accomplished, there remains one universal commonality for all of us: One year is 12 months. It’s 365 days. It’s 8,760 hours. It’s 525,600 minutes. It’s more than 31 million seconds. No more. No less. 

It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, well-planned or spontaneous. Time marches along completely independent of your actions. Perhaps this is why time serves as the measuring stick free of all prejudices.

Invariably, the majority of us working stiffs will reflect back on the year and think of time wasted, or perhaps time that could have been better spent — time stuck in traffic, or overtime on a project that went unappreciated. In general, most of us spend too much time on work — either at the office or around the house. 

Some of us have taken vacation time to putter around the house on projects, perhaps because a vacation trip was not in the budget. My thoughts: Unless you really love the project results (like a waterfall pond project), you are better off sprinkling things like closet organization over time. Stop doing the extra unpaid time at work and use that for projects such as closets. 

That doesn’t address the vacation budget issues, but there’s a solution there as well. Pack a lunch and hit the no-admission Smithsonian or other free or low-cost museums. Take a picnic and a hike in one of the countless free or low-cost state and federal parks. All of us are just $10 in gas away from absolute scenic beauty.

Years ago, I made a conscious decision to make better use of my time. I had my challenges, such as in-home hospice care for a parent about to die. Unexpected important projects dropped in my lap at last minute for work. The water heater went up suddenly. Perhaps I also bit off a little too much doing a do-it-yourself kitchen renovation. 

But, I look back with little regret. I fondly remember many journeys to see relatives and kindle those relationships, as well as trips to see concert events, museums, festivals, and the capstone — a few really nice weeklong getaways to new exciting places. I am a hard grader. But I’ve managed to up my personal report card from chronic “Ds” to perhaps  “B+” now. I still strive for the “A.” 

This year, can we help you with your personal report card? Think of these pages as your personal tutor. Happy New Year — may this be your best ever!

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Even the smallest skiers enjoy all the amenities and experiences at West Virginia’s Snowshoe Mountain Resort. (Snowshoe Mountain)

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