12:02am Thursday morning.
I’m violently awakened by gunshots immediately outside my window.
It’s Jan 1st – New Year’s day.
People are celebrating by drinking excessive amounts of alcohol then playing with dangerous toys like fire crackers and handguns – whoopie.
For the few minutes I was awake, I stopped to think about the idea of celebrating a new year and thought to myself, “what are people celebrating?”
- It’s a fact that 90+% of new year’s resolutions aren’t kept.
- It’s a fact that gym memberships spike in January and go back to ‘normal’ in March
- It’s a fact that the average person’s income, job, relationship, health, etc does not change by much from year to year.
I was really curious about what are people so excited about.
So I asked.
I asked 60 people two questions: 1) “What specifically are you celebrating” and 2) “What things have you committed to doing this year that you haven’t committed to and reneged on in the past…& what do you plan on doing differently to achieve that thing?”
The answers I got were interesting…but not surprising.
Some would say…”Well, it’s a new year.”
So what? You don’t celebrate a new day, or new week or quarter? So why celebrate a new year?
Some would say it’s the “end of a chapter” or the “turning of a page” – but this would only be true if you were ACTUALLY ending the chapter instead of living a run-on sentence.
59 of the 60 people answered the question of ‘what they’re celebrating’, “I don’t know”.
Here’s how the typical conversation went:
Them: Hi Antonio, Happy New Year!
Me: Thanks, back at you. If you don’t mind me asking, what are you celebrating?
Them: New Year’s of course…
Me: What specifically are you celebrating?
Them: Um…the New Year coming in…
Me: Yeah, I get that, but what specifically about the new year are you celebrating?
Them: Um, The fact that it’s a fresh start / this is year is going to be GREAT! / This is going to be MY year / etc
Me: How do you know that?
Me: Didn’t you say the same thing last year?
Them, Well, I guess so…
Me: So what makes 2009 any different?
Them: Um, Well, I don’t know.
Me: So, typically when people ‘celebrate’ something like a promotion, an anniversary, a birthday, there’s an actual event that’s taken place that has cause for celebration. If you don’t know why you’re celebrating, then why are you?
Them: Um… I guess I don’t know. Well, I guess I’m celebrating a new year of life… yeah…that’s it…
Me: Don’t you typically do that on your birthday?
Then I went into my second question…
Me: What things have you committed to doing this year that you haven’t committed to and reneged on in the past…& what do you plan on doing differently to achieve that thing?”
Them: Um… Err… um
Me: This is when I went into what I’m about to share with you below…
Okay, sorry for being the buzz-killing, party-pooping, over thinking guy, but…I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t think this way. Stick with me…there’s actually a moral to this story.
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever been given was from my father before he died…he said, “…if you want to keep getting what you’re getting, keep doing what you’re doing.
What’s the purpose of celebrating some arbitrary date (like new years) if NOTHING is going to change?
Setting arbitrary goals around arbitrary dates leads to arbitrary results.
Why not start your new diet on George Washington’s Birthday?
Why not stop smoking on Labor Day?
Why not start writing your book on St. Patrick’s Day?
Or September 23rd? Or any other random day?
The people who consistently achieve their goals are the ones who start NOW… they don’t wait for arbitrary dates like New Year’s or Mondays or the beginning of the month. They start right now!
Why not start RIGHT NOW…this moment…. no matter what day it is. If you really want what you say you want, then when would NOW be a good time to start?
Okay, so it’s New Year’s… if you feel better about starting your goals now, fine…but I ask you to consider 2 things:
1) Don’t let New Year’s be the ‘excuse’ for you to start something… because when New Year’s is gone….then what?
2) If you set goals for 2009…that’s great, but I ask that you truley commit to these goals and create action plans around them to ensure you obtain them… THEN, you’ll really have something to cepebrate in 2010.