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A new year brings hope. A time to look forward, turn a new leaf, and become better people. We make New Year’s resolutions to set goals for ourselves — what a great opportunity for self-reflection. While we’re at it, may I propose we first look back and make a confession to ourselves.

We can’t truly move forward unless we cast off the chains of the past.

We carry around a lot of baggage, don’t we? Some are heavier than others, but we all have them and they weigh us down and slow us down. Some of us don’t even realize how much we’re carrying around because maybe we’ve never taken the time to face the ugliness we’ve created or the messes we’ve made. But if we don’t do it, how will we ever have the self-awareness and motivation to do things differently?

Take a look back. Be honest with yourself. What do you need to ‘fess up to and face? What baggage do you want to leave behind in 2017?

Did you do the best you could? Did you make excuses? Were you true to yourself? Were you true to others? Did you do the right thing? What are you holding on to? Is there someone you need to forgive? Do you need to ask for forgiveness?

Making a confession, even to ourselves, is an act of humility. It’s admitting that we’re not perfect and we could’ve done better. That’s true for every single person on the planet, so don’t feel like you’re alone in this. We’re all human. Don’t let shame or pride keep you from this task. It’s hard work, but the chains only get heavier the more you pile on.

Jews look back and atone on Yom Kippur. For Catholics, after making a confession you are absolved of your sins. The slate is wiped clean. There is incredible freedom in knowing that your past weaknesses and mistakes will not hang over your head. You resolve to do better and walk out feeling lighter.

Wouldn’t it be amazing to feel like that heading into the new year? To have confidence that what we resolve to do in 2018 will be that much easier to achieve because we no longer have the heaviness of the past weighing us down? That we have let go of the chains and are set free to be our very best selves.

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