I know New Year’s gets a bad rap.
For most of us, the first few hours of any New Year start out the same: drunk, glittery and confused.
And you know, it never seems to get better from there. New Year’s Day signals the end of the Holiday Season as we know it — which means back to work, dreary winter days, and Real Life without much to look forward to until the summer (…or Valentines Day, if you’re into that kind of stuff).
So, let’s get this straight: If New Years means we’re hungover, confused and bored, why is it my favorite?
Because, it’s the only time all year you can seriously say: Fuck it, I’m starting over.
A Near Year signals renewal. It tells is we can Start Fresh. It’s a Blank Slate — no excuses necessary, no questions asked.
And most importantly, it’s a time that really forces you to think about what you truly want.
So, What Do You Want?
Seriously. Think about it. Most of us (myself included) spend our year floating along, never pausing to reflect on what we actually want to do. We let life come to Us. We react. We make game-time decisions.
Sometimes, that’s good — great even. Spontaneity is important, and fun. And, Fun never hurts (except when it kind of does).
If Planning and Reflection are Spontaneity’s boring cousins, they are pretty damn important too. They are essential to our ultimate happiness. They help us understand what we really want. They help us achieve those goals.
They let us say, “Fuck It, I’m starting over — and I have a plan to Be Better.”
Every January 1st, no matter how hungover I am from the night before, I sit down to complete my Annual New Year’s Tradition – setting my goals.
I find a crisp, white piece of paper, markers, and a pencil. I sit down at my kitchen table, like a little kid, and get to Work: I determine the fate for the rest of my year.
For as long as I could remember, I spend New Year’s Day setting resolutions. But, I don’t play around — my resolutions aren’t scribbled on the back of some receipt never to be seen again.
I take this shit seriously.
Usually, I set goals in 3 different categories: (1) Career/Money, (2) Health, (3) Travel & Adventure. My goals are Big and they are Specific. They are Ambitious but Doable. They make me Think. They make me Reach.
I have to actually try to Be Better.
For example, a few years ago I ran my first marathon. In January 2014, I wrote down one of my New Year’s Health Goals was to Run a Marathon.
At that point, I had only run one half marathon — so, this goal scared me. Before I wrote it down, I thought it might be too big. Marathons were only for dads and crazy track stars. But, it wasn’t so far off from my past experiences that it seemed crazy. It was a stretch, but not impossible.
So, I wrote it down. And then, I looked at those goals Every Single Day. They hung up across from my bed, so I saw them before going to sleep, and upon waking up. It got hammered into my head, so I started thinking: Maybe I could do this. Maybe, I could potentially run a marathon (maybe).
I signed up for one a few months later. And, to spare you all the gory details from training, I will share the good news: I completed my first marathon in October 2014.
And you know what my first thought was once I crossed the finish line?
Well, besides a spattering of thoughts that I may be dying, I cheered for Myself. I completed a Real, Hard goal that I set months before.
And, it wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t reflect and plan and try starting on New Year’s Day.
So, you may be thinking — I don’t need to write this stuff down. I have goals, like:
- Going to the gym more
- Saving money
- Eating healthy
Sound familiar? Well, that’s you and 99.9% of the World.
I dare you to try something different and create your own Annual New Year’s Tradition. One where you write down Specific, Hard, Achievable, Real Goals. Maybe you decide to write them in a journal, or draw pictures on a huge piece of paper. Do whatever floats your boat.
But, Do Something.
Ask yourself the hard questions: Who do you want to be by this time next year? Where do you want to be? What do you want to have done?
Think. Reflect. Plan. Then, Commit.
This year, I’ll be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro on New Year’s Day (one of my 2016 goals!) — but I promise to share my Annual New Year’s Tradition Goals once I’m back.
Here’s to having a Blank Slate to work with. So, Fuck It — Start Over and Be Better in 2017.