Jan Fowler is a radio talk show host, award-winning columnist on senior living, and author of the best-selling book, Hot Chocolate for Seniors, which may be ordered by visiting her website at www.janfowler.com. Her new radio program, “Senior Living at its Best with Jan Fowler”, airs throughout the Inland Empire and Orange County on KSPA AM 1510 Saturday mornings 10:30 – 11:00. Jan may be reached at (909) 793-6419.



“It’s the Best I Could Do!”

The start of a new year not only provides us with the opportunity to look ahead with new purpose but also to look back on all we really did accomplish without realizing it.

calendar backgroundEvery year on New Year’s Eve, it is typical of me to ceremoniously pour myself a small glass of bubbly then take a closeup look at the past year by reviewing my calendar book month-by-month. But instead of berating myself about the goals which I either failed at or never finished, I focus on listing the things which I actually did accomplish.

Then I typically pat myself on the back and with a forced smile, say, “I wish I had done more, but it was the best I could do at the time.” Most years, I can generally find eight to ten accomplishments—small or large, which cover both my personal and professional life—that I feel proud of but had completely forgotten about. An example might be the time I sponsored a holiday party for the children of the men and women going through Drug Court (my nonprofit charity) or conducted a high-impact radio interview with a high profile senior who was clearly making a difference for other seniors in the social, medical or legal fields.

Life is one continuous odyssey. We all have dreams and goals for our lives and are doing the best we can under our circumstances. Sometimes we may simply need to close the door firmly on past mistakes, personal failures, broken promises, or just plain bad luck. And sometimes it’s forgiveness that’s needed toward ourselves or others in order to gain that much-needed freedom from emotional bondage.

“I wish I had done more, but it was the best I could do at the time” are words which I speak often to myself because they help me to move forward. Dreams and goals for the coming year may continue to revolve around the healing or restoration of a failed relationship. Or the issue of an aging parent and the nagging worry over their safety. Some of us may feel the ache of discouragement over a troubled son, daughter, or grandchild. Or disappointment over failed finances. But regardless of what we’re dealing with, I believe it’s okay to affirm past efforts by saying, “I did the very best I could under the circumstances.”


So let’s take stock of all the things which we’ve managed to accomplish or complete this past year, small and large, and puff ourselves up with pride over having done our very best to create favorable outcomes. Renewed optimism helps breathe life into many new dreams for our lives and others.

I look forward to the beginning of every new year because it signifies a fresh start and one more merciful chance to complete all that I started but left undone. But in case I happen to fall short of achieving some of my ongoing dreams or goals again, please remind me that I may need to stop, forgive myself to some degree, and treat myself with kindness and respect.

For me, the magical release of renewed hope washes over me whenever I can force myself to say “I wish I had done more, but it was the best I could do at the time.”