As the world says farewell to 2020 and ushers in 2021, I’ve been reading social media posts and memes that — in some form or another — suggest that the New Year should signal the end of negativity and horrible things.
I get it. We measure change and progress in units of time, and a calendar year is the easiest way to contextualize that. Time is how we put the past, present and future into perspective. Time allows us to reflect and plan, and time gives us hope.
But if we are waiting on a new year to determine how much better or worse our lives will be, we might be in trouble.
This message is for you if you’ve written, liked or shared any version of these phrases:
“2020 was a dumpster fire! I can’t wait for it to be over.”
“2021 is soooo going to be my year!”
“First rule of 2021: we don’t talk about 2020.”
To “blame” a year for your misfortunes, mishaps and failures is to acknowledge that time — not your own thoughts and actions — is what is ultimately responsible for your quality of life. To do that takes away your own power. Time doesn’t change you; you change you. The person you were on December 31st is exactly the same person you will be on January 1st.
Assuming a consistent level of reliability and performance, does the brand of car you drive dictate where you’ll go? Does driving a more expensive car suddenly improve your destination? No, because you are the driver. You decide where — and when — you’ll go.
It’s always good to reflect on your life and plan your future, and it’s always, always good to hope for better. If December 31st is the date you choose to do that every year, it’s OK. But consider this — are you promised January 1st? Why couldn’t you make the choice to do and be different on your birthday, which is arguably a better indication of how you measure your years on this earth?
A recent resume client described herself as a “precrastinator” — always working ahead of deadlines. She has recognized that the only moment she can control is the present because it’s the only moment that’s guaranteed. She isn’t going to wait until a future date to check off items on her to-do list.
And I agree. I don’t think that a specific date should determine when I set intentions and take stock of my life because the only guaranteed moment I have is now.
I encourage you to take back your power. Don’t leave it up to a future date to determine how your life might be. Consider celebrating New Year’s Day on your birthday, which represents the end of one year in your life and the beginning of a new one. Instead of celebrating a Happy New Year on January 1st, celebrate a Happy New Day, every day, and be more intentional about your choices in every moment.
That’s how you’ll have your best year — and life — ever.