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Sonoma County Gazette
Senior Momentum by Zoe Tummillo

New Year’s Restitutions!

(No. It’s not a typo.)

Dec 30, 2018
by Zoë Tummillo, Communications Concepts


I’ve always believed that New Year’s Resolutions were just dolled-up, fun, wishful thinking – usually about something needing improvement.  I noticed that not much would change; the Resolution usually faded away in a few weeks or months – like the strains of Auld Lang Syne and the fireworks.

Restitutions are not only much easier to follow-thru with than Resolutions, but you are way ahead of the game because you already have the information you need, you know what was right or wrong, you know the details and there are no secrets.  Restitutions are easy to identify, to define and are personal and familiar.

Restitution is a tricky concept.  What’s needed for restitution is usually obvious, not obscure or obtuse.  The better we become with self-examination, the clearer the concept becomes.

I spent a few hours with my old friends Oxford and Webster (...we’re on a first name basis), and the investment was more challenging than I expected.   One important thing I learned was that “Restitution” as a concept suffers in the same way that the concept of “Confrontation” suffers.  They are immediately assumed to be NEGATIVE.    

Over many years, with many small business clients, those uncomfortable with “confrontation” saw it only as a negative process, associated with anger and disapproval, and always punitive.  Coaching and teaching positive confrontation was definitely an adventure!

“Restitution” also (with few exceptions) was/is usually associated with fault, recrimination, payback, guilt and numerous other mea culpa’s.   

Webster, Oxford and I take exception!  While both concepts include negative potential, there are numerous situations where “Restitution” speaks loudly to positive opportunities.

Which brings me back to my affinity for New Year Restitutions” over New Year Resolutions.  Restitution can be “ act of restoring; the restoration of all things and persons to harmony; restoration of something to its rightful owner; restoration of a person to a former position or status; or, the act of restoration of a thing or institution to its original state or form.”  (Webster)

Wow.... Just those few actionable Restitution ideas can easily send one thinking of personal opportunities...  Whereas, New Year Resolutions are too usually about stuff we would (or should?) be doing anyway!  You know:  stick to the weight loss diet plan, stop smoking, spend more time with the kids, clean out the garage...

Thinking about our expectations – just because December 31 rolled into January 1 for a new calendar year – brought to mind something my 10-year-old son asked me years ago:  Mom?  Am I supposed to feel different just because yesterday I was 9 and now I’m 10?  Because, I don’t!  

We really don’t feel much different when the old year rolls out and the new one rolls in – but we try to!  Resolutions are part of that, and no harm done.  Nothing appreciably changes, although we try for new beginnings, all around us; we intend positive changes. I am not suggesting the abandonment of Resolutions; just suggesting a tweak!

Advancing age can cause one to look back and kind of review one’s path from time to time.  It’s surprising to notice some things you view differently now that you were so sure of at some point back then!  Then there are the woulda/coulda’s (don’t spend a lot of time on those!)  On the other end of the spectrum, advancing age can also get you thinking about the wisdom of making Resolutions that don’t take into consideration old knees, the need for naps, endurance, the wanna factor, and the slim chances of follow-thru, etc.

New Year Restitutions seem friendlier somehow!  You have what you need, there’s no mystery, and a lot can be handled these days right from the recliner. So, Happy New Year!  If you decide to go with Resolutions, just don’t bite off more than you can chew!



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