At the end of every year, instead of writing about resolutions and goals for the new year, Isabella always posed an important question to readers of The Pansy magazine:
What lesson did you learn from the past year?
I know a boy who has learned during the past year that he can forgive another boy who has done him a great wrong; that he can be pleasant to him, and even help him over a hard place in his school work. I think that is a grand thing to have learned.
I know a girl who has learned by sad experience during the past year that she cannot play with temptation without getting hurt. Seven times she did what she knew mother, and teacher, and friend did not want her to do, without any harm coming from it; but the eighth time—Oh, dear! I will not tell that sad story. I only hint at it to remind you that there are sad ways of learning, as well as pleasant ones.
Well, I could tell you of dozens of others whom I have watched during the year, and of the lessons they have learned, but all that might not help you.
The important question is, What have you learned?
Will you think it over? Let everyone who reads this get pencil and paper and sit down alone to a careful study of the year. You might make two columns, headed:
If you find you have learned you are a bit selfish in your plans, when you did not suspect it, put down the word “Selfishness” in good honest letters in the “Avoid” column. You will understand what it means, and nobody else need know about it.
If you find that you are inclined to be persistent in trifles which have no moral character, give it the true name and write “Obstinacy” in the right column.
If you find that by taking a little care, you have made sunshine in your home, or some other home, print the word “Care” under “Lessons to Practice.”
What interesting columns they will be after you have carefully filled them!
I should like to see the record, but of course, you will not let me. All that will be between you and your best friend, Jesus.
Isabella’s question— What lesson did you learn from the past year?—became an annual question she posed to her readers. And every year she received letters from hundreds of readers, eager to share their lessons learned with their beloved Pansy.
What do you think of this idea?
Do you think adults can benefit from reviewing lessons learned just as much as children can?
Do you make a list of lessons learned or do you make resolutions for the new year? Or both?