Congratulations everyone, we have officially moved more than one day into the new year of 2017! I apologize for the absence, as I was taking a bit of time to rest, recoup, and spend time with family and loved ones.
The times, not only for me, but many others, are getting difficult. And although I implore us to look ahead with a positive, optimistic and dream-driven attitude, there is always one little something that I find slightly odd. Every year, a majority of my friends and family attach themselves to some random phrases and attitudes for the New Year. You know the ones, the ones that only pop up when it’s convenient for the time, and sound catchy and good to say. Seriously, it starts for the first day of the New Year, continues for maybe a month, and then magically—poof—they give up on it.
And I have no doubt that you’ve heard and experienced something similar. You might ask your friends in February or March, “Hey so-and-so, what ever happened to [New Year’s phrase/attitude here]? How’s that going?” And you’ll find the same answer that you kind of already knew was coming, but were hoping that maybe you’d be surprised: “Oh that? Oh…well I gave up on that.” It’s a common occurrence—really it’s like clockwork for a vast majority of people not only in America, but around the world.
I tend not to subscribe to those phrases and attitudes—and not because I think they’re inherently “dumb”—and I usually don’t try to follow my friends’ or family’s lead. The reasons why are pretty numerous, so for all of our reflection as we continue into 2017, here are five phrases and attitudes that I dislike, and why we should reconsider them for our own New Year, every year, in no particular order.
New Year’s Phrases and Attitudes
- “New Year, New Me!”
Honestly, I get why people say this (and all the other things below). The numbers on your calendar have changed and the days have been rearranged. And maybe the past year for you personally was tumultuous and difficult at a lot of junctures in your life. Maybe it was a lot more downs than ups; a lot more failures than successes. So you want to say, “If the year can change and be fresh, why can’t I?”
Unfortunately, that’s not how life works. And that’s why I dislike this phrase—not because I think a difficult year for anyone is inherently good, mind you. I dislike this more because it tries to undermine the notion that you make the changes, and that, even in adverse circumstances, you can make the efforts and actions to change the course of things. The year on the calendar doesn’t dictate mistakes—when they happen they happen—but much like that calendar on your wall, they don’t just erase or go away. They become history to look back on. And likewise, I find it more worthwhile to embrace the mistakes and hardships of the past year and use them as learning points; points to grow from and make adjustments for a better tomorrow.
Give me the same-old me, and watch me work with him.
- The “it’s-now-the-New Year-so-everything-will-instantly-be-even-better-than-last” Mentality
A lot of us, myself included, like to put our stock and hopes into a lot of things for the sake of optimism. It could be something as little as that shirt in your closet, or something as big as…well, the New Year. That’s not really such a crazy thing to do, either. We need to hope for changes in life; we need to hope for things to be better. And they will be, no doubt.
Still, this notion that—now that it is a New Year—everything will magically, drastically improve every issue that occurred in the previous year, is something that I’ve always found a bit silly. Why? Because those issues are almost always both out of our control and in God’s control, or issues that will most definitely be a process to manage effectively. You can’t expect your job to be a better workplace in a day; you can’t expect the government to do what’s best in a day; and you can’t expect yourself to be better in a day, either.
You can take control of the things that are within your grasp though. And you can control your optimism and hope—you can look ahead with the process in mind, and believe in it.
I still know quite a number of people who like to put stock in this phrase once the year moves forward another digit. The thought behind it is, to my understanding, that a new year is a chance to be daring; to try new things; and to spread your wings a bit. Those are all well and good, and I completely agree that all of those things are important—in fact I preach to people about those things all the time!
YOLO should not mean for a new year, however, that irresponsible decisions are warranted. It should not be an excuse, ever, to be reckless for the sake of your own satiation. Yes, we all do only live once—that much is true. Yet life is still a responsibility, whether we like to admit it or not. We will always have people that love us, always have people that put stock in our decisions and what we do with ourselves. There will always be someone that looks to you as a role model. You do only live once.
So make it a quality one, not an excuse driven one.
- “It’s a New Year, so I really need a good resolution.”
The thinking behind a New Year’s resolution is awesome. You want to go do something, so you make a poignant note at the start of the calendar year to achieve it. You want to keep yourself accountable, and latch onto an ideal or an action that can improve you in some way or another. It could be traveling somewhere new, or being more fit; either way, it’s a resolution that will benefit you for, presumably, a long time. It’s something you probably should have done long ago, if you’re being honest.
Not all resolutions are equal, though, and they shouldn’t be! If one person says, “My New Year’s resolution is to climb Mount Everest,” yours does not have to be “I want to go to outer space”. I’ve heard friends and family say, “Well that’s a dumb resolution,” when someone puts up one that might seem less grandiose, or less “powerful”. That’s their resolution though, and how it affects their lifestyle isn’t dictated by you or I, or anyone else for that matter. It’s dictated by their own personal story. So its weight is not, and never should be, measured by a standard that is not personal to them.
If you want to read a book for your resolution, go read! If you want to learn to do a push-up well for the first time this year, go learn! The point of a resolution isn’t to compare it to other people. It’s to compare it to you and you alone; to better you and your lifestyle, not your neighbor Jim next door.
- “This year will be the same/worse because last year was awful.”
I think, especially in the year of 2016, a lot of people were struggling with negativity—with lies and the Enemy whispering dark thoughts into their ears. Everyone, including me, were fighting to find what was right and true to them. We were all clawing to the finish line in December, and gasping for a sign of positivity (and believe me, there were positive things in 2016). It was a long, drawn-out, tumultuous year, no doubt.
I still hear people taking stock in it though and dragging that negativity into the present day, and that saddens me. If I’m being honest, my year has started off rougher than even I could have expected; it was and is a mixture of positive and harsh, cutting negativity to my heart. But five days does not a year make, and the past does not construct how the future will unfold! Just as 2016 was a year of unexpected turns and twists, 2017 has the potential to be those same things, but for positive and welcome outcomes. We can’t know, because it’s the future—and only God knows what that brings, because we’re human.
We shouldn’t pretend that the year will even remotely be similar to last. And even more, we should refuse the notion that it will be worse.
In my heart, I truly believe that 2017 can and will be a year for all of us to grow together. To share experiences that are fresh, new, surprising and worthy of not only our efforts, but God’s as well. This year of 2017 will be a year where we stand stronger, stand straighter, and love ourselves and those around us even more. It will be a year unlike any other, and a year that will carry us one step closer to our goals and aspirations!
So let’s walk with God in this New Year together! Let’s be unafraid to look up, see the stars and the clouds that block them, and reach for them both.
The past is merely a lesson for the present to read, and the future to apply.
Written by: Michael “Bboy Roach1” Roach