At a recent lecture I attended on the topic of preparing for the New Year, the discussion was about the importance of teshuvah—a process of stock taking, reflecting on the year gone by, identifying areas of weakness or failure and making amends to ensure a better year ahead. I find this idea very confronting and uncomfortable. I think that if I focus on this past year I will only feel guilty and depressed. Can't I just forget about the past and move on?


Moving forward with growth and improvement can only happen if we are uncomfortable with where we are now. To achieve this, we need to puncture our comfort zone by confronting the past, creating a feeling of discomfort and a little bit of healthy guilt. That feeling will become the catalyst for real change. It also allows us to learn from our mistakes so that the past can be used to make a better future.

But the process need not make us depressed. On the contrary, it actually carries a powerful message which generates a strong feeling of joy and closeness to G‑d. When G‑d asks us to confront our shortcomings and create a better future, He is really saying:

"You matter to Me and you make a difference. I need you to engage in this confronting process because I care about you. Everything you do is significant and hugely important to Me. I have given you this special time of the year for reflection because I recognize that you are human and you make mistakes. But you mean too much to Me not to give you this opportunity of repairing, reconnecting and moving forward".

Don't let this opportunity slip by. Think back through the year, identify a mitzvah you can improve on, or a relationship you can strengthen and take the first tangible step forward. It might hurt a little, but its importance makes it all worth it.