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In Retrospect
By Carlton U. Forbes
Staff Writer & Columnist
"Revival of the Black Dragon"

Every New Year, a lot of people engage in a contemplative and retrospective ritual. For many, the yearend is a time of mixed emotions; a chance to reassess the past twelve months, and gain perspective for another calendar-turning event. While some are reflecting on 2011, others are eager to bid farewell to the old, and embrace the new with hopeful optimism.

Though this contemplative review is beneficial, some may be prone to indulge in a despairing recollection of the past year, beset with feelings of regret and remorse. Others may avoid the backward-looking ritual altogether. Just the thought of a new start causes gleeful exuberance about turning the page on 2011, and starting a new chapter in 2012.

In fact, the transition from the old year to the new can easily trigger two contrary moods. Such adverse mindsets are often exhibited by two groups of people during the calendar change-over. The first group I call ‘lamenters,’ and the second, ‘anticipators.’

With this in mind, it is hard to avoid asking the following questions. On which side of the divide do you find yourself? Do you often succumb to melancholy at the end of, or beginning of the year?

When you take stock of the past twelve months, do you feel deeply regretful? Does the thought of a New Year trigger feelings of apprehension or anticipation? Do you think more about what might have been rather than what can be?

Surprisingly, the New Year is not the time to become overly preoccupied with the past. Instead, it is our chance to fix our focus on the future. The New Year is a season of hope and optimism; of expectancy and promise. It is a time for daring aspirations and new dreams, grand visions and new goals.

No doubt, last year had its trials and troubles. Most of us have made at least a few mistakes.

We’ve also had some setbacks, and struggles. Sadly, some have experienced numerous failures and two few successes.

Still, we don’t have to torment ourselves with the unpleasant episodes of the past year. Each year has its share of mishaps and missteps. And every person has had some progress and setbacks. Every life has both triumphs and troubles. So the most important part of the retrospective ritual is to gain new insights about our past decisions, and prudently proceed with our future plans. .

That is, we must focus less on our setbacks and more on our progress. We must reexamine the missteps we’ve made and value the lessons we’ve learned. Refocus our creative efforts and redirect our resources to the dreams worth achieving, and the goals worth pursuing.

As we say goodbye to 2011 and welcome 2012, let us explore new opportunities and tap new reserves of strength and tenacity. The New Years is our chance to start over. It is an auspicious time to scout new prospects in hopes of attaining new successes.

We must also admit that human endeavors are fraught with trail and errors. The road to success is littered with failures. In order to triumph, we must risk setbacks. Every opportunity has duel possibility. And every worthwhile enterprise must factor in potential problems and workable solutions.

So while it is good to engage in yearend reflections, it is equally important that we reconcile with the past, take stock of the present and make thoughtful plans for the future. Consider this! All our past mistakes are part of history. Now is the time to recalibrate our game plan; dream new dreams, set new goals, and formulate winning strategies.

This way, we can envision a new dimension for our live. The New Year is like a new beginning. It is a new chance to discover new opportunities, explore new avenues, and embark upon new adventures.

Granted, the above suggestions may seem unrealistic, but that’s only true with the old way of thinking. The same way new wine is best preserved in new bottles, a new perspective requires new thinking. Without an attitude adjustment, it’s hard to conceive of a new vision for the New Year.

A new vision may also require a new conviction. So start by expecting new experiences, pondering new prospects and possibilities. You can do this by adopting a new mantra, praying a new prayer, and taking a new direction for your life.

Now, one poignant question is worth asking. Is it possible for us to feel both regretful and sober about the New Year? Absolutely! How so? By doing an honest accounting of what went wrong, and taking sensible steps to avoid repeating past failings. The wise man Solomon says it best. “It is good to grasp one and not let go of the other. The man who fears God avoids all extremes.” (Ecclesiastes 7:18)

You may have been disappointments last year. But this is the year of blessings, and divine appointments. You may have had significant setbacks in 2011. But in 2012, you can become more forward-looking, forward-moving, and forward- thinking. Because this time of year is the season for a God-given vision!

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Carlton U. Forbes, who serves as staff writer & columnist for The Seoul Times, currently teaches Global English at Dongyang University in S. Korea's Yeongju City. Among the books he authored are "A Few Choice Words" and "ESL Teaching Aids." A resident of S. Korea for over a decade Prof. Forbes can be reached at






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