It’s now four days into the new year and that lovely feeling where everything is new and possibilities are endless is quickly starting to slink away into the dusty corner where it lives for 360 days of the year.
Something about the simple progression of the four numbers we write at the end of the date imparts us all with a fresh sense of wonderment, opportunity and imagination for what we can achieve, not just in the coming months but in our entire lifetime.
In the real world, nothing has changed since I went to bed on December 31st and woke up on January 1st.
I still live in the same house, sleep in the same bed and eat the same food. The sun still rises and sets at around the same time and people all over the world still face the same trials and challenges that they faced the day before.
So what is it about the new year that makes us so hopeful for change and personal betterment? I think it’s because we need this artificial shot in the arm to pull us out of our daily drudgery, even if your typical day isn’t that drudgey. It’s an external marker which we use to force ourselves to rethink our habits, our careers, our spending patterns or our relationships because we don’t have any motivation for this self-assessment any other time of year.
We all know that one of the secrets (actually, it’s not really a secret) of successful people is that they set goals and stick to them, biting off small pieces and chewing them up one mouthful at a time.
New Year’s Day presents all of us with the opportunity to reinvent ourselves, re-focus our attention and re-evaluate our goals for the year ahead without us having to arrange it on our own. How uninviting is it to sit down on a Saturday night in the middle of May and hash out a bunch of plans when everyone else is watching the finale of Masterchef? At New Year we don’t have to force ourselves to think about these things, the date does that for us.
The only real change that occurs around New Year is in our attitude. Since all our mates are busy working out how to finally kick their chocolate habit, booking long-awaited dancing lessons or setting new household budgets, suddenly the self-assessment becomes a fun, communal affair.
If we can get this excited about new things once a year, why not do it all the time? If only it were that easy. In my case, I know I need that little push to get started, a reason to stop procrastinating and just do it. Like hopping on the ‘study bus’ which comes around every 15 minutes or so when you’re trying to get started on a 2000 word essay on naval warfare in the medieval Mediterranean. The clock ticks down and you get prepared, and when it clicks over to 9.45pm you know you had better start typing. Something. Anything.
This year in our house we made a New Year’s resolution to embrace the New Year ideals of fresh starts and new plans throughout the whole year. We will be celebrating New Month Day on the first of each month. Hopefully it will help us continue to re-evaluate where we are going and what we are doing and carry the optimism of the ew year all the way through to December.
I think we’ll be doing well to make it to April, but at least then there’ll only be eight more months until New Year.