Everyone thinks of the New Year as a fresh start and an opportunity to become a better version of themselves. The flaw in their thinking is that they are looking at the year as a whole, as one single year, one chance to make things right. They are making resolutions for the year and at the end of it, their grade is pass/fail. They either kept their New Year’s resolutions or they didn’t. They succeeded or they succumbed to the inevitable disturbances that life throws at them and let those obstacles get in their way.
The fatal error is in thinking that you’ve got one shot.
But there are 365 days of possibility. 365 days of promise and hope and change. 365 chances to make a difference, to wake up happy, to choose something new. Every day is a new start, not just January 1st.
When you give yourself one chance to keep your New Year’s resolution, you make it easier to give up. You’ve given yourself one opportunity to fail and when you do, you can just take the year as a loss. It’s easier to let yourself off the hook if you think you’ve already failed.
But what if you woke up the next morning and your resolution started over? What if you thought of it as what it’s truly supposed to be – resolute? Steadfast, unyielding, stubborn, determined. If you were to describe a person as that, you wouldn’t expect them to give up after one bad day. You would expect that person to try again tomorrow and the next day and the day after that.
I’ve made New Year’s resolutions. After reflecting on the year past, appreciating all the wonderful things I’ve experienced and the people I’ve loved, while acknowledging the challenges I’ve faced and the things that have caused me to stumble, I’ve made resolutions thinking that it would be easy to choose something about myself that I could change that would make me a better person.
Resolutions aren’t supposed to be easy. If you really want a new start, if you really want to change and be better, it’s going to be very, very hard.
So this year, I couldn’t, and didn’t, decide on just one New Year’s resolution. In my too-quick and cursory reflection of 2014, I found a multitude of ways that I could improve and become a better version of myself. But I can’t just write them down as a New Year’s resolution because I know that I would be destined to fail. I would submit to the pass/fail system just like everyone else. I would give myself an out. I would surrender to work and schedules and life’s general chaos, and I would find it infinitely easier to say that I could always do it next year. I would come up with reasons why my life is perfectly fine the way it is, and I would convince myself that I am happy enough.
But then nothing would change.
I didn’t make resolutions this year. Instead I made goals.
In 2015, I want to wake up every day and remind myself that’s there’s still a chance to accomplish everything I have dreamed of. I want to remember that each day is another opportunity to start over. Each day is a day to work toward my goals, not necessarily to achieve them in one fell swoop. This year, I want to be resolute, not just make resolutions.
Some of my goals for the year are to commit to being positive, and at the same time, to stop complaining. I’d like to practice gratitude and take time to write down specific things that I am grateful for each day. I want to broaden my knowledge and experiences by traveling, touring and trying new things. I’d like to save more money, pay off my student loans and be more conscious of the money I spend on shopping and restaurants. I want to strengthen my relationships, both personal and professional, rekindle old friendships and be open to new ones. I want to write more and take more pictures, so that I can record and remember every moment of life.
I have 365 chances to be better. 365 chances to choose happiness. 365 chances to change the world.