11 Grandparent-Approved Pieces of Advice for a New Year

published Dec 31, 2022
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It’s the season for resolutions, reflecting on goals, and dreaming of what’s waiting in the next year. And, if there’s anyone qualified to dole out advice about how to best prepare for another year, it’s someone who’s experienced the better part of a century. 

There are many ways to approach the new year, and grandparents have seen it all. Sometimes you’re ready to keep growing and thriving. Other times you’d like a chance at a fresh start. And then there are the years when you just want to look inward and take time to meditate on the past months.

Whichever one of those years you’re having, there’s a wise grandparent out there with advice for you. Here, 11 people, some with grandparents still with us and others with memories that remain strong, share grandparents’ advice they treasure year after year and the words they reflect on as the clock strikes midnight.

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On Hard Work and Goals

Grandparents have made their own ambitious goals and reached them — and they’ve also missed goals. They know achievements take hard work and tenacity. They want you to give life your all — but also to enjoy the ride.

1. “You end up how you start off.”

“You end up how you start off. My grandfather would always say this to us about starting something new or going into a new year. He has been hugely influential on the person I would end up becoming.” —Rahkim

2. Stay persistent. 

“When I was in one of the most confusing phases of life, my grandfather gave me a piece of advice I will forever hold on to. He told me that no matter what, to be persistent in my pursuits in life. Go after it with my whole heart and not let up. He framed a quote from former President Calvin Coolidge as a reminder for me. It reads, ‘Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.’” —Natalie

3. Hard work begets luck.

“My grandfather used to have a sign on his desk that read: ‘The harder I work, the luckier I get!’ Now it is in my office. For the new year I tend to set realistic goals I know are a stretch but motivating. My grandfather taught me that with hard work the stars can align to create a little luck so goals can shatter.” —Paige

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On Making Changes and Starting Fresh

Grandparents understand that a new adventure is possible at any age, and they’re always there to be the cheerleader when you’re ready to embark on one. They know what’s worth taking and what’s worth leaving behind. If you ever need perspective about putting one foot in front of the other and confidently going into a new year, they’re the ones to encourage you. 

4. Just try it.

“My grandfather was a huge baseball fan, and his favorite advice to give came from the classic wordsmith Yogi Berra. ‘When you come to a fork in the road, take it.’ This quote intentionally doesn’t provide a definitive answer, but I often turn to this thought for advice. A new endeavor can be terrifying, and sometimes that simple fear is what holds us back from even trying. But if you listen to Yogi (or my grandpa!), you realize this choice is just one part of your journey, so be daring!” —Beth

5. It’s always a good day to make a change.

“My grandmother used to tell me that you’re never too old to reinvent yourself. She always said New Year’s was as good a starting point as any other, but if you make conscious decisions throughout the year, you can successfully be a completely different person by the end of the year. You just have to make that choice every single day. If you’ve been waiting to make changes in your life, choose today. Then make the same choice tomorrow.”Amy

6. “Do it afraid.”

“My grandfather always encouraged me to take on projects, even if they were outside my comfort zone. He’d tell me, ‘Do it afraid!’ He said that fear is normal but that we should never let fear run our decisions and lives, or we’d never get anywhere and live mediocre lives. What we have to do is recognize our fear and make an action plan to face it.” —Peter

7. If it’s not useful, ditch it.

My 96-year-old grandma always had quirky, silly, honest advice. She said the key to fresh starts is out with the old. Get rid of everything that has no use or purpose. Hold a grudge, be mad, [ride] it out for six months, then let it go. Let it go forever; it serves no purpose in your future. Learn the lesson and move on. Don’t complain about anything that you are not willing to at least change and work hard to change it.” —Jen

Credit: Photo: Christopher Testani; Prop Styling: Carla Gonzalez Hart; Nails: Mamie Onishi; Rug: Courtesy of Aelfie

On Reflecting and Taking Care of Yourself 

Part of setting up your new year for success involves nurturing yourself and those around you. Embrace the quiet and stillness of the winter and listen to what you really want. These grandparents gave their grandchildren the gift of permission to slow down and discover what truly moves them.

8. You don’t always have to work toward something.

“My grandmother reminded me to take a breather and told me it’s okay if I’m constantly not trying to achieve something.” —Sameera

9. “When in doubt, don’t.”

“I was always close to my paternal grandmother, who was a master quilter and pianist. One thing she said that always stuck in my mind was, ‘When in doubt, don’t.’ I still rely on that advice to this day.” —Simon

10. “Look forward with joy, look back with grace.”

“My grandmother just passed away after a full, wonderful life at 103. She told me over and over again to look forward with joy, look back with grace. She believed that every day mattered, and that tomorrow held new opportunities to learn, love, and grow. What happened in the past just became part of your story, but could never fully define you. She learned new technology in her 90s and moved to assisted living when she decided making lunch was more than she needed to do at 101.” —Carol

11. Write it down for perspective.

“My grandmother used to end every year by writing down her favorite memories of that year, and begin every year by writing down goals and resolutions she hopes to create in that upcoming year. She had a separate journal where she would tail-end these annual reflections and dreams to each other, so you could easily see which dreams came true, and which memories occurred unexpectedly. I started doing the same thing the year she passed on, writing in depth about her passing and the impact she had on me as a young child to a grown adult. I love this writing exercise, as it really helps put things in perspective, evokes gratitude for small and large events, and helps you process certain events that affected you in a large way.” —Andy