I’m calling bullshit. On the new year.
What we call the “new year” is arbitrary. It’s not connected to a natural, seasonal event. January 1st became the first day of the year when Julius Caesar added 67 days to the previous year.
There was a lot of mucking with the calendar in ancient times, whether for political gain or due to incorrect astronomical calculations. There wasn’t a broad consensus on when a new year started – some cultures marked it on the vernal equinox, the autumnal equinox or the winter solstice.
But over the course of millennia, January 1 became firmly cemented as the start of our new year, and with it, the idea that this is the time to remake yourself. Out with the old and in with the new! Bigger and better!! Now or never!!!!
There is something about a crisp, new, blank calendar that gives the feel of a new beginning. But, no matter how you choose to mark the change from one year to the next, the day comes just like any other. And, it turns out, nothing much actually changes. The person you are at 12:01AM on January 1 is the same person you were at 11:59PM on December 31.
As much as you might like there to be a magical transformation that happens – an instantaneous shedding of the emotional baggage you wish you could leave behind, the events you’d like to forget, the people/places/things you’d like to be rid of – it all comes along with you into the new year. And that can leave you with a feeling of deflation when life looks the same on January 2, like the promise of a fresh start has been broken before the year is a week old.
This idea of a fixed ending and beginning repeats every year, and if it works for you, that’s great. But life tends to not be that tidy. The highs and lows of our lives stubbornly resist conforming to the calendar. You may find yourself in the middle of some seriously difficult – or seriously wonderful – circumstances that leave you with little interest in or energy for examining and recalibrating your life.
If the end of December doesn’t coincide with a transition in your life, or you don’t feel the pull of a new beginning, you don’t have to pretend or force it just because the calendar says so (or everyone else is). You have permission to keep on keepin’ on, as you were.
You are not obligated to reflect or review or rewind or revise or resolve, if it doesn’t feel right for you.
Because a time will come when a part of your life does come to an end, and a new phase begins. Or you’ll want to take a look at what’s working (and what isn’t) in your life. Or you’ll start to think about what possibilities lie ahead for you.
No matter when this happens, whether it’s January or July, it’s the right time for you – it’s your new year.
And when you are ready, here are some questions to guide you into your new year:
Who do you want to be?
What do you want to do?
How do you want to feel?
Is this what you really want?
What do you want to stop doing over the coming year?
Imagine yourself at the end of your year – how are you different?
What advice does the one-year-from-now future-you have for the current you?
"Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us" – Hal Borland