Activating Our Best Year Yet
A Conversation with JWRP Founding Director Lori Palatnik
Rosh Hashanah is the holiday when we present our case in court. We stand before G-d and share our plans for the year ahead. We remember that in Judaism, we are held accountable for our actions and that we are responsible for realizing our potential each and every year. “G-d doesn’t compare you to anyone else — only to yourself,” says JWRP Founding Director Lori Palatnik. In our conversation, Lori outlines how to create strong action plans for the year ahead and shares how she is preparing for Rosh Hashanah.
Why is it important to create an action plan before Rosh Hashanah?
If you were going to start a business, you’d go to the bank and ask the bank manager for a loan. She would respond, “What’s your plan?” If you said, “I’m just going to see how it goes,” you wouldn’t get the loan. On Rosh Hashanah, we ask G-d to write our names in the Book of Life and to give us another year. G-d responds, “What’s your plan?” We can’t just tell G-d that we’re going to wing it. We need to make our case for another year by sharing what we want to accomplish, what steps we’ll take to get there, and how we will measure our success.
What might an action plan look like?
Create an action plan with five categories — significant relationships, health, finances, career, and other.
If you’re married, one of these relationships that you should consider is with your spouse. If you feel like you’re comfortable in your marriage, you’ve stopped growing. So, think about how you’d like to improve the most important relationship in your life. Also, consider your relationships with each of your children. Consider relationships that you need to repair, as well as relationships that you need to distance yourself from.
Health includes your physical and spiritual health. Your body houses your soul, so it’s essential to take care of your body. Gym memberships surge in January, but they never build extra lockers. If you feel like you need to do a better job caring for your body, make a plan and hold yourself accountable. I recently lost the 25 pounds that I’d wanted to lose for years because I finally committed to a plan that worked for me. Also, go ahead and schedule the annual exams that you might have been putting off.
As for your spiritual growth, know that if you’re not learning, you’re not growing. Find a teacher, course, or author that speaks to you and inspires you. For example, sign up for Partners in Torah, an organization that will connect you with a learning partner who you can meet with over the phone or in person and study whatever Jewish subject interests you at whichever pace works best for you.
Create financial goals that may help you alleviate some of your financial pressures, as well as the conflicts that may stem from those financial pressures. Also, commit to giving 10% of your salary — after taxes — to organizations that do work that you find meaningful. If you’ve been financially blessed, choose to give even more. Consider paying it forward and helping another woman experience MOMentum. Givers are happy people, and when we are generous to others, G-d is generous with us.
If you’re dissatisfied in your career, consider what your plan of action should be. Perhaps you should change professions. Maybe you should hire a life coach or see a career counselor. If there’s something you’re passionate about but have been afraid to try, go for it. Life begins at the end of our comfort zone.
Ask yourself, what do you want to contribute to the world? What would make your life more meaningful? Create goals that set yourself up for success.
In each category, write down your goals, the steps you’ll take to achieve them, who you can turn to for support, and the bad habits that may impede your progress. Once you complete your plan, you’ll be able to hold your head up high on Rosh Hashanah when you ask G-d to grant you another year of life.
How do you prepare for the New Year?
Teaching keeps me real and I can’t teach all about action plans and then not create one for myself. In the past few months, I’ve experienced many new challenges, and now I feel like I’m cramming for final exams. It’s as though G-d knows that I still haven’t learned certain lessons or grown in the way I need to, and G-d is trying to squeeze the potential out of me. I know that G-d is sending me challenges to help me become a greater person — a better wife, mother, mother-in-law, Jew, and leader.
On Rosh Hashanah, why do we wish each other both a good and a sweet year?
If I asked you what you wish for your kids, you might say, “I want them to grow up and be happy.” But, they might be happy dropping out of school, playing video games, and eating chocolate ice cream all day — none of which would make you feel satisfied. We don’t just want our kids to be happy. We want them to be good people, to know right from wrong, to realize their potential, and to live meaningful lives. But we don’t want their journey to be difficult. On Rosh Hashanah, we remember that a good year in which we experience a lot of growth may also be filled with pain. So, we bless each other with a good year that is also a sweet year.
Shana Tova U’Metuka! Wishing you a good and sweet year, in which you realize your unique potential.