As the clocked ticked from 11.59pm to midnight, the calendar changed and a New Year had begun. My wife and I were lying in bed looking out of the window across the moonlit fields. As parents of small children, it’s the kind of rock and roll lifestyle that we’ve become accustomed to. Amazingly, nothing happened. Across the country, fireworks were being launched, people were kissing each other and the mobile phone network was stretched to breaking point by a flood of texts. However, in the fields of North Yorkshire nothing happened. Nothing changed. Had it not been for the clock on the bedside table, we would not have known that a New Year had begun. I wondered whether the badgers, foxes and owls had even noticed.
The rock band, U2, wrote, “Nothing changes on New Year’s Day”.
What am I getting at?
You’ve probably read a host of articles, blogs and tweets all asking what 2017 will bring. They challenge you to make resolutions, set goals and make some profound changes because it’s the New Year. Call me an old sceptic, but what difference does the date make? Why should we make changes because it’s January now and not December? Did we commit to any life changing decisions just because April became May or September flipped into October?
I’ve seen many people set goals. To be honest, most of them do so because they think that they should have some. I suspect that they read somewhere that successful people set goals and write them down. They may even have heard a professional speaker or coach stand on stage and extol the virtues of having S.M.A.R.T. goals. So, if I want to be successful I guess I need to have some goals, right?
I’m not sure that is the best reason to set a goal.
One of the best athletes I ever worked with came up to me one day and said, “I don’t get this whole goal-setting thing. Goals should come to me, I shouldn’t have to find them. If I create a goal, it’s not real. My genuine goals are just there, I don’t need to set them”.
Perhaps this is the reason that New Year’s resolutions and ‘goals’ normally fade very quickly and inevitably fail. If something is genuinely important, it will be just as relevant on the 4th October or 21st May as it will on the 1st January.
So, what does the New Year give us?
I heard a Rabbi delivering his ‘Thought for the Day’ on the radio. He talked about the opportunity to reflect, which we have in the New Year. He suggested that rather than looking to set goals or make sweeping changes to our lives, we simply concentrate our commitment to those things that we want to change. Personally, I think that there is wisdom in this approach. However, it does beg another question. Why can’t we have this opportunity to reflect all the time? To put it another way, I would argue that we do have this opportunity all the time but we often forget that we have it.
In reality, we could have a New Year’s Day everyday… without the hangover.