One of the most beautiful things about growth and maturity in adulthood is recognising how much of a gift life truly is. I’ve noticed that there is always oomph and positivity that surrounds the 1st of January every year. We generally love the prospects of a new year and we all receive it with great optimism! The New Year holds opportunity for new beginnings; it gives us courage to rectify mistakes of the previous year, and encourages us to set new great goals for our lives.
In practical terms this is translated into:
People deciding to be healthier (e.g. an increase in gym memberships), applications for college and university, new job applications, a rise in charity work and giving to the less fortunate, visits to financial institutions for financial advice and guidance, spiritual refocus (e.g. church attendance is very high early in the year), and the list goes on. Reality is, when the New Year starts most people have a tremendous desire to change or enhance their lives in some form.
So, what about the New Year makes us see life differently? I think the answer lies in the “psychology of new beginnings”. The concept of new beginnings is powerful because it is underpinned in the transforming antidote of Hope. To illustrate the transforming power of hope I would like to share this story. I was watching an interview on a talk show recently and the talk show host was interviewing the director for the Reach for a Dream Foundation. The core objective of the Foundation is to continue giving hope to children fighting life-threatening illnesses through the fulfillment of their dreams (https://reachforadream.org.za/about-us/).
The director echoed how they work with various partners to help fulfill interesting and heartfelt dreams that some of the children suffering from life-threatening illnesses have. She mentioned that the vision of the foundation is underpinned in the notion that a happy, hopeful spirit/heart can aid with dealing with pain. Hope in the human heart is a powerful life transforming force. And I believe that most of us in the New Year are heightened in hope. But I have been asking myself this question and I am sure that some of us would be able to relate: Why is it that we can start the year with so much zeal, ready to do gigantic things, but you find that by the time we reach March/April we have all “fallen off the wagon”?
Perhaps for us not to fail and lose momentum, we should move away from a 365 day/gigantic view of our goals. This year long view can be quite overwhelming. Perhaps we should view the changes we want to make in the New Year as a series of many new beginnings each day. According to practical wisdom, ‘micro-actions’ are the best way to create lasting change. The authors of The Book of You (Penguin; R175) share that “a micro action is a small daily activity that you can complete instantly. These small wins form new neural connections in your brain, which makes it easier to nail bigger goals”.
As we begin 2018, maybe we ought to realise that the secret to achieving our New Year’s resolutions is in understanding that our lives are a series of daily new beginnings. Set your priorities straight each day, and be grateful for every little thing you experience and achieve daily.
As Dr Martin Luther King Jr said, “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”