Did you make a New Year’s resolution? I’m guessing that about half of you answered “yes” and the other half answered “no.” Americans are split on the matter, and although each year we hear complaining about the outworn exercise of making New Year’s resolutions, the concept has not gone away since the Babylonians made New Year’s promises to the their gods 2,500 years ago. Why’s that? Because New Year’s is a time for endings and beginnings, a time of optimism, of understand that we are not eternal beings. The New Year gives us a natural demarcation point from which we can consciously evolve in the short time we have to become all we can be. And that will never change.
As you can imagine, though, the majority of New Year’s resolutions made are broken, whether because they were too aggressive in nature or simply pushed to the side a few days or weeks later. When the hope and excitement of change fades away into the dark reality that growth takes work, we can all-too-easily settle back into our comfortable habits. When we do, we feel like we have regressed; staying the same feels like we have failed.
Instead of resolutions, I look at New Year’s as a time to make fresh starts. Change, for better or worse, can easily be attached to a rear-view mirror, where fresh starts allow one’s focus to be only on what lays ahead. Fresh starts give us a chance to achieve new and different results. Instead of resolving to skip dessert 6 days a week, start making better decisions about everything you eat. Instead of resolving to quit smoking, start putting your health as a priority. Instead of trying to rid yourself of some quality, such as grumpiness, disorganization, or a lack of confidence, start each day trying to be the best you can be on that day. Positive results using either mindset are great, but a failed resolution takes you backward, where attempted fresh starts constantly allow an opportunity for success. Eat three desserts this week, and your resolution goes out the window, but you can always focus on eating healthier.
In my mind, resolutions are a gamble, a game of darts in the dark, a walk on a high wire, whereas believing that each day and each action taken can be a chance to start becoming a better you, well…that’s betting on a sure thing.
With that in mind, here are a few movie quotes on the topic of how great your new starts are going to turn out:
“The only person standing in your way is you.” Vincent Cassel in Black Swan
“We’re all just one small adjustment away from making our lives work.” Paul Rudd in How Do You Know
“I’ve got to reach for the best that’s in me.” Robert Redford in The Natural
“You can do it!” Rob Schneider in The Waterboy