I've lived through enough New Year's to know that nothing magical happens at midnight on December 31st.
As a kid, I remember standing in my living room with my friends and family, watching Dick Clark on the TV, waiting for the ball to drop in Times Square. "Only ten more seconds!" I'd squeal. "10! 9! 8!" When I got to "1," I'd hold my breath, make a wish...
I'd been on the planet for a mere 14 years, but I was sure an era was coming to an end. It's 1999! It will never be 1998 again! Ahhh!!
Unfortunately, despite my enthusiasm, when I awoke on January 1st, I quickly realized: nothing had changed. First off, I was still me. I hadn't mysteriously switched places with one of the Olsen twins, and, annoyingly, my younger brother still lived across the hall. The earth was still rotating at the same rate—too fast since I'd been up after midnight—and the birds didn't seem to care about the new year, either. They were chirping outside my window at 6 a.m., as if I'd been in bed by my usual 10.
January 1st operated a lot like December 31st, it turned out, except it lacked the excitement. No one cares about January 2nd.
Because of this, and because of the fact that this turned out to be the case year after year into adulthood, I quit making new year's resolutions a long time ago. In growing up, I realized that nothing as superficial as a date could make a lasting impact on mankind, and particularly not on me. If I wanted to change something, it would have to come from inside me.
One of my favorite childhood movies, Cool Runnings, discusses a related idea. The film shares the story of the first Jamaican bobsled team. The coach is a four-hundred-pound man who had won a gold in Olympic bobsledding twenty years earlier but hasn't accomplished anything since. The men on his team are desperate to win an Olympic medal, but their coach tells them, "If you're not enough before the gold medal, you won't be enough with it." This idea rings true for the idea of "New Year, New You," too. Too often we rely on outside forces to initiate change in our lives, or we look to outside sources for approval. If we want to make a lasting change, though, or feel good about ourselves, we have to figure out how to get that from within ourselves. This world and a mere date are too finicky to be allowed that much power.
As you begin this new year, I hope you'll join me in my quest to stay true to myself and not let outside forces determine my actions or worth. After all, as Dr. Suess so aptly put it:
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose!”
Happy New Year!