When is a door not a door? When it is a cross-dimensional portal to a realm populated by hideous creatures (tip of the hat to Marvel and Lovecraft fans). Or when it is ajar – I never quite remember. When is a New Year not a new year? When it is part of a continuum of blah and meh, such as many people have experienced during the pandemic. Many of us try to pin so much on the start of a New Year, but the reality is we can choose change and growth at any time.
I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. The only time I tried one, I gave up smoking many moons ago. That sounds great, right? On the cusp of a New Year, a pledge made to myself had massive health benefits. The reality was somewhat different, though. I had been giving up cigarettes for at least two years. I actually had another (final) smoke on New Year’s Day that year. I had already decided what I was going to do, and the choice of the start of a calendar year was just a semi-arbitrary way to mark it.
I’m not alone in not setting resolutions. I recently listened to Jocko Willink’s start of year message, and his view is, expectedly, somewhat extreme. He treats every day the same and “stays on the path” regardless of what the calendar says. This approach isn’t for me, or most, I would suspect. I like letting my hair down a little at Christmas, although this is entirely metaphorical at this point, and the level of relaxation of rules from a food/drink perspective was much lower this year than in previous ones. I put in a lot of work to lose pandemic-related weight gain, and I don’t want to pile it back on only to repeat the cycle.
Tim Ferriss is another podcast host I regularly listen to who doesn’t make a list of resolutions. Instead, he does a past year review. He advocates for taking stock of the most positive encounters of the previous year and then explicitly setting out to replicate them.
What I have done and continue to do throughout the year is to set goals for myself. I add new ones as I achieve (or shelve) a goal. These range from completing a coaching certification to writing my second book to being a better Dad (something I can always put more work into). Goals are beneficial and action-oriented ways to develop ourselves and are not dependent on the turn of a year.
So a New Year doesn’t mark a New Me. It’s the same me, looking for ongoing opportunities to become better; to build more meaningful relationships; to make a positive difference in the lives of the people I interact with. It’s an opportunity to reflect, certainly. And a reminder that every day, multiple times a day, we have the chance to reset, refocus and choose a better option for ourselves. In that, and many other areas, I can agree with Jocko.
Happy New Year, everyone. I hope it is filled with joy, wonder, growth – the complete opposite of blah and meh.