Welcome to 2021.
For everyone I know, 2020 was a tumultuous, distressing, disturbing, unusual year. It’s passing has been marked not by raucous celebration but by at-home isolation (since we are still in the middle of an out-of-control pandemic).
Unfortunately, the change in the year is artificial. The Gregorian calendar most of the world has been using for over 400 years has still seen shifts in when the “new year” began. Yet in our lifetimes, it’s always been January 1.
Still, life moves in cycles, so artificial or not — here we are at the beginning of a new one. For some people, this is where they choose new practices to begin. Or at least, the idea of new practices. For some, they have lots of ideas but no incentive nor gumption to act. And for still others, the new year is just another year. Same shit, different day — oh, and different year, too.
Like everything else in life, you have a choice. Make something of the new year — or don’t. Given the insanity and uncertain of the past nine months, I think it behooves us to analyze where we have been, where we are, and where we might desire to go.
For many people, this is not fun. It’s uncomfortable because looking inside yourself is disconcerting. But it’s important if you desire to make substantive changes in your life — and take control. Especially after the crazy year that’s just ended.
Resolutions versus actions
First, it’s important to acknowledge that, as Yoda would say, “size matters not.” Whatever you desire to do — big or small — if it matters to you, it’s important.
We can do little to nothing about the big, overarching world. I voted in the election to change the government. But I can’t do jack shit about the ongoing insanity — save being aware of it and taking actions that might be warranted down the line like rallies, protests, bombarding congresspeople with emails and calls and such.
All our control is in ourselves. Specifically, our thoughts, feelings, actions, and intentions. You know — mindfulness, of course.
Lots of people make New Years’ Resolutions. They resolve to go to the gym, eat healthier, be better about contacting friends and family, and various other notions that seem like a good idea.
The problem with a resolution is that it has no energy to it. No power. It’s just some idea or notion of a thing you’d like to do. This is right in line with my favorite Yoda quote,
“Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.”
Resolutions are a try in this context. This is why I recommend a New Years’ Action in lieu of a resolution.
When you take an action, you give it your attention and intention energy. At the start of 2012, I began to blog once a week every Wednesday. That was my New Years’ Action. In time, I went from weekly to daily blogging. But that one action set in motion the desired change — for the better — for my life.
Don’t just resolve to do something — act on it. Get up every morning at a specific time and go to the gym. Stop drinking soda. Call that loved one every Tuesday. Don’t resolve to do something — DO IT.
All change comes from within
There is a false narrative that permeates our society about change. If you have ‘X’ your life will change for the better. When you have ‘Y’ it’s the key to a better life. Tangible, intangible, material, immaterial, ‘X’ and ‘Y’ are things you can acquire in some way that will improve your life.
I am not saying that having things you desire is always bad. It’s not. I love my car, my computer, my fencing swords, and the stuff I call my own. But they are not what changes my life or bring change to me — that’s entirely on me.
All change comes from within. It’s the choices and decisions you make that create something that will improve your life and alter your experiences how you desire.
Yes, there are things — tangible and intangible — that you can acquire that will help you have some great life experiences. But they are tools of the process, not the impetus of the change itself.
Change can be scary. It’s full of unknowns, uncertainty, and mystery. But when you are mindful of yourself and your inner being you gain the ability to control change.
So, if things are making you unhappy in your life — this is a great time to change them. New year, new you. But this is wholly on you to work with. If you desire to make changes you need to take the necessary actions to make them.
The new year is a great impetus to start anew. If you have a desire to see 2021 be better than 2020 was, what can you do? What do you DESIRE to do?
New year, new…??
Some people take this to mean that they should try something utterly different. Something they have never done before. A wholly new direction, option, and so on.
But new doesn’t always mean different or unusual. It just might be an altered approach or angle to something you do. Perhaps an option you have never tried before.
Take weight loss. That’s a favorite for many. I have made so many different attempts to lose weight in my life that I have lost count. From when I was a fat kid to now, I’ve tried diets, exercise programs, intermittent fasting, mental alterations — take your pick.
My weight has been a yo-yo all my life. As an adult, I’ve been anywhere from 185lbs to 280lbs. I seem to be incapable of getting down under 200 and staying there.
Yet I am still working on it. But I am not making a resolution nor an action to do that at the start of this year. That’s because — while it is important that I get into better shape — I believe I need to alter my mental health more to properly address this.
I have several ongoing matters I’m actively working to change just now. So, for me, the new year isn’t going to add another new thing. And that’s okay, too.
But if — unlike me — you haven’t been working on changing something you’d like to change — why not use this opportunity to do something? New year, new this, that, or the other thing.
Do that thing you have thought about doing but didn’t. Make the choice, decide to take the chance, and use this new year to renew and refresh your life.
Happy New Year! Let’s hope that 2021 is a better year for the whole damned world.