Updated: Jan 21
It’s that time of year again. All around us the people are still singing and the bells are still ringing, but they’re not singing along with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers celebrating Christmas, all over, again. No, it’s time to change the calendar. It’s time to change you. Yes, it’s the New Year, all over, again … yeah, again!
In one short week, we have moved on from the festivities of gift giving and carol singing to reminiscing about the past year and preparing to embrace the year to come. Indeed, during the week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, many of us found ourselves relating (and liking) memes about how we have lost all track of time and found ourselves in some sort of existentialist void – that is, somewhere between the food naps, Netflix binges, and hours of Facebook scrolling, we’ve realized we have no idea what day it is and, then, started questioning what we are doing with our lives. It’s quite a dramatic shift from the Christmas holiday, where the focus was on others – family and friends – and shared experiences of joy. Now the focus is on “you” and, more likely than not, something that is lacking in “you.” It’s time to change “you.” And at the stroke of midnight many of us will take the opportunity to start anew. A new year, we think, gives us the opportunity to make a fresh commitment for change in our lives.
Indeed, like clockwork, these thoughts enter our mind every year, even if we don’t follow through with them. Without a doubt, we’ve come to know that there will be celebration countdowns all over the world and that we will be inundated with all kinds of advertising, prompting us to make some sort of change in our lives. Social influencers and the usual suspects of commercials will tell us we need to make personal (and necessary) change. You know the ads! Probably the most common commercial is the one that tells us to simply start exercising or begin exercising more this year. Of course, now that you are exercising more, you need to start eating healthier and, then, you should begin working harder, networking more, learning new skills, and so on. At this time of year, we are encouraged to make a huge change (or changes) in our lives, larger than even the most grandiose New Year celebrations found around the world. Essentially, it’s a transformative message that we are being sent, which we are to take personal hold of and embody. It’s a mindset that is impeccably encapsulated in the reinvigorated saying of: “New Year, New Me.”
Yet, isn’t this all little bit ambitious? Also, I have to ask, what happened to the old “me?” Weren’t there some good things about the old “me?” I mean, I know eating healthy and exercising are not inherently negative things, but transforming my whole being in order to make these changes in my life? It seems a little drastic to me. Of course, I would like to make a few personal changes because I think they would impact my life positively. Fundamentally, I do want to exercise more and enjoy more time outdoors. Moreover, I do want to have a much healthier lifestyle, especially if it allows me to spend more quality time with family and friends. But, I also know these changes are huge. Truly, they are transformative changes. It’s the reason why phrases like “New Year, New Me” were coined. And not only are such changes huge, they are massive changes to implement. And now it’s the New Year and I should be the “New Me,” but I’m not that person yet. How will I ever transform myself into this brand new person that has the strength and willpower to carry through such significant change? I’m already overwhelmed!
Unfortunately, once we feel overwhelmed that desire we once had to change extinguishes itself. It’s a normal reaction, of course. If the task at hand seemed impossible or nearly impossible, who would want to start? It would be a waste of time (and a bit of lunacy) to carry forth with an objective that was unattainable. For this reason, many individuals don’t take the New Year opportunity or any opportunity to make a change. The New Year resolution, in fact, has magnified the desire and task for personal change to such a degree that it makes it seem impossible to do. It’s going to be too large of a change to make; it’s going to be too many changes to make. A resolution for change will just result in failure again … yeah, again!
But the notion of change does not have to be viewed this way. We can shift our mindset. We don’t have to have a notion of change that is too momentous in scope or too numerous in application. We don’t have to make change such a complicated undertaking. And we don’t have to start with a “New Me;” rather, we can (and eventually will) end with a “New Me.” Instead of overwhelming ourselves with the big picture, we can simply remind ourselves, again, of simple truths. Hence, one thing that we can do is to forget trying to do everything at once. If you are going to make a change, make it a simple one at first. After you make this choice, remember to break down how you are going to implement change into manageable and attainable steps. Ignore the hoopla of large scale change. Focus on your simple goal. In this way, you may avoid the pitfall of being distracted by all the other changes that you plan on doing. You don’t need to concern yourself with the changes you want to implement by the end of the year or even by the end of next week; you can focus on today and, then, when tomorrow arrives you can focus on that day.
All these suggestions are simple ones that you already know. Indeed, they are simple reminders. They are intended as simply one way of overcoming those thoughts and feelings that often overwhelm us, especially when we are trying to make some sort of change in our life. But don’t let the simplicity of these recommendations, and our familiarity with them, deceive you into thinking that they cannot effect real change. As many great philosophers and story-tellers know, there is a great power in the notion of simplicity. Ancient thinkers, like Plotinus and Augustine attest to such power with their philosophical musings and lives. Modern tales like Star Wars also tell of the same simple journey of change. And even nature shows us a seemingly simple seed can transform one simple step at a time, into a beautiful plant.
So, if you want to make a change this year, start simply. Let the change take root and let it take its time. You don’t have to make major changes; you don’t have to make a lot of changes; you don’t need to force changes; and you don’t have to be stagnant in your personal growth. Instead, you can shift your mindset and you can stop overwhelming yourself. You can make the change or changes that you really want to make. But if you are finding it difficult to begin or sustain your desired change, remember the notion of simplicity, because embracing it may be the simple shift you’ve needed to help you on your way.
Again, this year, if you decide to make a change, remember to embrace the simple things, do the simple things, and simply be.
Blue Bark & Co.