New Year’s Resolutions

I was recently asked by USA Today to share my New Year’s resolutions for 2009 as well as my thoughts on New Year’s resolutions in general.

As you may know, we are just returning from an inspirational trip to Japan where we spent New Year’s with some local friends observing the Japanese traditions for the holiday. The Japanese version of New Year’s is far more reflective than the raucous good time Americans associate with the occasion. Gone were the streamers, noisemakers, balloons, champagne, and expectations of the “night of my life” and instead I spent a spiritual evening looking backwards, and then forwards.

The interview comes at a good time because, as a result, I placed more emphasis on my intentions for the New Year than I have since childhood. In Japan, New Year’s Eve begins at 7 pm with the nationwide broadcast of a variety show with 30 of the year’s biggest performers. This is akin to our typical awards shows (Japanese style, of course). This airs until 11:45 pm, at which time you head to your local temple where you celebrate midnight and the new year by making offerings and ringing a bell (or several) with wishes for the new year. In fact, there are many different types of charms and offerings you can purchase, all providing and aiding the various types of luck and wishes you want for the new year.

So what did I wish for? I tend to believe that saying a wish out loud prevents it from coming true…so I chose not to share this specific information with the reporter. What I can say is that I did spend time reflecting on what I wanted for my business as well as myself personally in the new year. In fact, there are specific Japanese shrines dedicated to business vs. personal intentions.

Sheri Koetting of MSLK ringing in the new year in Japan

I typically don’t make New Year’s resolutions, perhaps because I usually spend New Year’s Eve dancing the night away (or thinking of the party where I should be dancing the night away). Plus, New Year’s always comes at the end of a hectic season and, personally, I never even feel capable of taking on anything new as I dig out from the pile that was Christmas.

MSLK vistis a Shrine on New Year’s in Kosugai, Japan

I prefer to set personal and professional goals at our annual shareholders’ meeting in the summertime.  And, yes, the term “shareholders” meeting is almost comical because Marc and I are married and there are only two shareholders at this meeting. However, we have done this every year, sometimes twice a year, since we incorporated the company. We choose to hold this meeting in the summertime when things are slower and implement our new initiatives immediately with the traditional “back-to-school” sentiment of fall.

When I reconvene to talk to this reporter again at the end of 2009, I hope he will find me as optimistic as I am right now about the state of our business versus the economy. We are not wavering on our long-term goals or investments into our business and intend to look beyond all the bad news out there. We have always known there would be hard times ahead (every high has a low), and personally/professionally strive to plan accordingly. We resolve to maintain a positive attitude and always think about our business in terms of 5-10 year goals rather than day-to-day. Let’s hope our hard work in planning will be enough to weather this storm!

Now back to Japan for just a moment…I promise many more posts, photos and trends will be coming with inspiration from our trip. There are over 800 images to choose from so please be patient while we gather them into some thoughts. Happily, it’s been a very busy start of the year here at MSLK and I haven’t had much time to get to it.

MSLK interviewed by Japan TV at NArita Airport

I will, however, also mention that speaking about what, as a foreigner, I feel the differences are between the Japanese New Year’s celebration and Western celebrations is becoming a bit of a trend for me. Twenty minutes after landing in Japan, literally as we crossed out of customs, we were interviewed by a national reporter on what we were doing for the New Year in Japan and what we were expecting.