New Year, Same Old You

I hate to break it to you, but nothing magical happened Saturday night at midnight. A ball fell. People kissed. Champagne bottles were popped (or, as in this household, sparkling grape juice bottles). Confetti was thrown. And firecrackers were set off annoying dogs and neighbors for miles.

But let’s face it, it was just another day. We set up our lives by the calendar. We mark time by the passage of months and years. I know why we mark these occasions and celebrate them.

But we must remember: not much changes from December 31 to January 1. (Other than forgetting to change the year you write down on checks leading to a number of crossouts and corrections.)

This is why so many resolutions fizzle out. We are still the same person. So if we make no substantial change in our lives, all the resolutions in the world will not force change. Turning the pages of the calendar from 2016 to 2017 will not make change magically occur.

Now don’t get me wrong: I think because of the ways we measure time, the beginning of a calendar year can be a good time to start something new; or stop something old. Because we think in terms of months and years, we can use that to our advantage. But there are a couple of things we must intentionally do if we are going to make any lasting change.

First, make goals that are specific and realistic. Don’t say, “I’m going to lose weight.” You need to have a certain number of pounds in mind that you will lose. You need to have an eating and exercising plan. Likewise, don’t say, “I’m going to lose 100 pounds in the next 3 months.” That’s not realistic. In fact, that’s kinda dangerous. But make goals that you know you can accomplish.

Second, find a group of people to hold you accountable. If you can join a group working towards the same goal, that would be even better. One of the strengths of the 12 Step model is that everyone gathers for a common purpose—sobriety. While the individual journeys make look different, the overall goal of sobriety allows everyone to help hold one another accountable. Many healthy eating and exercise groups exist. Many writing groups and reading clubs are around that can help you write and read more. Or you can begin your own group. But you will be more successful if you surround yourself with people who can check up on you.

A change on the calendar will not lead you to make you change.

Deciding to make a change will lead you to make a change.

You are still (largely) the same person you were last week. The festivities of Saturday night did not change that. While I appreciate the sentiment behind “new year, new you,” it simply isn’t true. Unless you actively seek to make that change.

And remember, you are more than adequate to do the things necessary to change. By January 1, 2018, you may indeed be an entirely new person. I hope I am. But it won’t happen overnight. So let’s get to work.

Happy New Year, everybody.