I’ve always enjoyed the renewal that comes with each new year. The opportunity to recreate and restart is both refreshing and promising. So what if the resolutions only last until the beginning of February? The energy and momentum a turn of the calendar brings is good for the soul regardless of its duration. January 1st is like a trip to the salon for a new look combined with a shot in the arm of B12—a chance to feel confident and energized and ready to take on the world. Just as every journey begins with a single step, every year begins with a single day.
So how do you capitalize on this chance to hit the reset button? How do you take full advantage of the urge to move mountains (or molehills)? The answer is simple—you just do. Whatever the challenge, whatever the goal, you just have to start. I never took physics, but I did watch a Celebrex commercial once. The premise of the challenging science course and slogan of the arthritis medication are one in the same: a body in motion stays in motion. This lesson applies to all great choices and decisions in life. How do you make a change? You just do…and then you keep doing it…and then you’ve done it. Whenever I was faced with an overwhelming challenge growing up, my Dad would encourage me to act by advising me to “just go knock it out.” This no-nonsense charge to steel my resolve and slay the proverbial dragons has guided my ambitions ever since. Only action can cure anxiety. You just need to get out of your own way. After all, as author Jack Canfield said, “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.”
I bring this up because life is so short. I know its cliché, and my husband always warns me against using such aphorisms. His reasoning is sound, he knows I usually say them wrong and make myself sound both silly and trite all at the same time. For example, I typically say “cut them off at the path” instead of the “pass” because it makes more sense…if we are both running down a path and it intersects, I can run in front of you and win the race. Or I refer to things that are “right up my aisle” instead of my “alley” because I spend a full quarter of my life grocery shopping and an aisle is more relatable to me than an alley. Seriously, who spends time in an alley and why would anything you enjoy be in such a place? Aren’t alleys typically filled with drug dealers and rats? But I digress. The point is, sometimes these simple platitudes are just so true that I can’t help myself. Life IS short. So why do we spend such precious time doing things that we don’t love? Why do we waste our scarcest commodity pursuing things we aren’t passionate about, stuck in situations we would rather run from, and carrying burdens we would rather drop? The fear of the unknown and the wobbly nature of uncertainty are big challenges to overcome. Luckily, the unknown isn’t always so scary once you get a closer look and the obstacles aren’t so insurmountable if you take them one step at a time. You have to get it started if you want to get it done. After all, time waits for no man.
Equally as important to taking on new challenges and reaching for new horizons is seizing the opportunity to reflect on lessons learned during the past year. A good friend and former colleague of mine during my stint in Washington, D.C. (and one of the brightest minds I’ve ever encountered) posed a question recently that is worth sharing. Travis asked, “What are the most important lessons or truths you’ve learned in 2015.” The answers he received were a mix of profound and profane, and so compelling that I shared his question on my own Facebook page with my readers. One response, from a reader named Sybil, resonated with me this year as it circles back to the fear that many of us have of the unknown and the aversion to risk this causes in our psyche. Sybil quoted Andre Gide who once said, “There are very few monsters who warrant the fear we have of them.” Gide was a French author and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1947 and is frequently referred to as one of the most significant writers of the 20th century. He is also the originator of another of my favorite maxims—“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”
Profound words for anybody sitting on a fence this time of year, aren’t they? If you were waiting for a signal from the universe to push you to make a move, consider yourself served. It’s time to prep the boat and pull up the anchor. Whether it’s a new career, a new degree, a new relationship, or a new physique…the time is now. The monsters aren’t as big as you imagine and the new oceans are worth the trip.
Just hop in and start rowing.