Don’t you really love the beginning of a new year?
For most of us, it holds the promise of change and improvement; of moving beyond the challenges and difficulties of the past year.
Of course, January 1 is an arbitrary line in the sands of time. It was celebrated as the beginning of the new year for the first time in 45 BC when the Julian calendar took effect.
Theoretically, any day could have been the beginning of the new year. But does the year begin anew only on January 1?
Years ago, I became friends with a speaker named Ray Pelletier. As a coach, speaker and author, he espoused the philosophy that every day was January 1st; that each morning was the beginning of a new year. He believed that if you look at each day as a new beginning, you can start over whenever you fail; that every day can be a fresh start.
I like his idea, not only because it is a chance to start over if you fail, but because it is a chance to renew yourself and your efforts.
The phrase tabula rasa means “blank slate.” That’s how I look at each day. We write on a blank slate every day. What we write and how carefully we write is within our control. When we wake up, the slate is empty. When we retire at night, the slate is written indelibly.
Sometimes is feels like someone else is writing on the slate of our lives. In a way they are: how they treat us, the circumstances others create and our interactions with them can and often do have a dramatic effect on us. But you—not someone else—ultimately does the writing. You decide what you initiate, how you respond, and how you interpret it all.
Consider change. Change happens in an instant but is perpetuated each moment of every day. New Year’s resolutions are quickly abandoned because people write change as a singular event rather than an ongoing effort. They allow daily setbacks to deter them from long term change.
Maybe one way we can perpetuate the promise of a new year is to celebrate it daily. By thinking of each day as either a new “year”—or at the least a new opportunity—keeps us from being defeated by the setbacks of yesterday.
How we fill any day—whether it be January 1 or October 23—is about what we do with the opportunity each and every day represents. Rather than glide through each day as if it is no different than the day before or the day after, ignoring this opportunity is to discard the stuff of your life.
Celebrate the end of the old and the beginning of the new on January 1, but commit to onward and upward movement each and every day. In the end, a new year happens every morning when you wake up.
With 2016 almost behind us, we definitely have a “tabula rasa” on the horizon. It is up to each of us to fill that slate with memories. My grandfather always said to me, “Brian, there is no such thing a perfect day, only perfect moments.” All the best, Mark, in 2017. Thanks for leading the way.