Did you make a New Year’s Resolution this year? Statistically, the chances of keeping to it by now are quite small (so “well done” if you have!) But are we missing a trick? This Christmas, I discovered something quite shocking…
The 1st of January is traditionally when we start the new diet, begin a new exercise regime, join the gym, stop drinking, smoking or whatever other excess we believe is standing in our way. But as I discovered this Christmas, the calendar may be playing tricks on us…
Same old same old?
Christmas 2015 was out of the ordinary for us. Usually on Christmas Day, we have a big family get-together. After a visit to church, we eat a traditional turkey dinner together and then settle in front of the television for a time of laughter, sleeping or a board game. The day follows pretty much the same pattern each year as we tread the familiar paths through a gift-opening breakfast, a far-too-big lunch and a totally unnecessary buffet tea!
But this Christmas was different. For various reasons, our family were unable to get together on Christmas Day. Rather than miss out on our traditional gathering, we took the decision to move the festivities to the previous Sunday (20th December) and have a ‘fake’ Christmas Day together, including all the usual meals, the exchanging of gifts, the party table with crackers and hats. It wouldn’t be the REAL Christmas Day, but we would make it as close as we could…
I confess I had my doubts, although I kept them to myself. My rational mind told me there was no way it would feel quite right. I wouldn’t be able to get over that it was not the 25th and we were, in effect, ‘pretending’ it was Christmas. What actually happened was quite a shock…
As we went to bed on the 19th December (‘fake Christmas Eve’) I was obviously looking forward to our family get-together. But it was more than just that. Despite my usual objective and logical view on life, it was actually beginning to feel like Christmas Eve…
The day itself, as expected, was an enormous success. But what made it particularly special was that after the first couple of hours, it never even occurred to me that it wasn’t actually Christmas Day. The whole event felt so genuine, down to the terrible jokes in the Christmas crackers and the traditional mealtime innuendo of “Does anyone want stuffing?” The entire experience felt completely genuine. As far as all my senses were concerned, it was Christmas Day!
You might think that was to be expected, but there’s more. When we woke up the following morning (the 21st) which we had taken as a days’s holiday, it continued to feel entirely authentic: I was convinced it was actually Boxing Day! In effect, we had successfully ‘transplanted’ the entire Christmas experience into a completely different time-frame!
(In case you’re wondering, on the REAL Christmas Day my wife and I, together with our daughter and son-in-law, completely broke with tradition and went out for a meal at our local Indian restaurant – another wonderful Christmas Day!)
The Miracle of New Year
So – to the point – why am I telling you this? Well, because I’ve realised that if you can convincingly and successfully move Christmas Day, then you can move any day you like. Including New Year’s Day.
So if you forgot to make a New Year’s resolution and wish you had, why not make today your New Year? Don’t let the calendar try and fool you with some number other than “1”: it doesn’t matter at all!
Or, if you made a New Year’s resolution and then broke it, why not make today your New Year and make your resolution again?
Because…guess what?…there’s no limit: if we can move Christmas Day, then you can have as many New Year’s Days as you like!
What I had discovered (or perhaps re-discovered and appreciated in a new, deeper way) was that it’s not the date that counts, it’s what you do today. Special events like Christmas Day, New Year, birthdays and anniversaries are actually just man-made constructs. In fact, we can celebrate Jesus, the longevity of our marriage or the fact that we are getting older whenever we like. And done well, these celebrations feel every bit as good as the ‘real thing’ (because of course, they are.)
So when it comes to New Year’s resolutions, let’s not allow the calendar to run our lives! Why let a list of dates on a wall dictate when we can and can’t make a new start? If you’re really serious about Self-Improvement, then you can (and should) make a new start every single day. What’s important is that you remain compassionate with yourself, accept your failings, let yourself off the hook for the past and make some good decisions right now about how you are going to improve today.
So where are you up to?
- Broke your diet and ate chocolate cake and cookies yesterday?
Tell yourself “Never mind”, move on, enjoy an apple right now and put a banana on the table for later.
- Stayed in bed late and missed that workout?
Tell yourself “That was just one day, it’s fine” and go stretch your legs with a brisk walk outside for a while – right now.
- Reached for the cigarette packet and smoked yesterday (or just now)?
Tell yourself, “I’m getting there, keep going”, go outside right now and enjoy big gulps of fresh air and then shred the packet with a triumphant smile.
Whatever you want to improve on, right now is the time to start. And when you fail, that will be the time to start over – straight away.
- Let’s stop using January 1st as an excuse to only Self-Improve once a year.
- Let’s make sure we appreciate our husband or wife more than just on our anniversary.
- Let’s give gifts to each other regardless of whether there’s a birthday.
(And if like me, you’re a Christian, let’s remember too that “a God is for life, not just for Christmas”…)
To all my readers and subscribers, I wish you a Happy New Year: whenever you choose to have it!
To our continued Self-Improvement and success!
The Self-Improvement Guy