Like most people, I look forward to New Year’s Day with a special optimism; this will be the year that I get healthy, lose weight, stop procrastinating, take my company public, etc. It’s a common enough experience. The fact that most of us usually fail at our resolutions by the end of the first week has prompted many to avoid making such commitments at all. But it begs the question: Why do we need a special day in order to make a fresh start? Certainly, New Year’s Day isn’t the only day when we resolve to make a difference; I can think of Easter (rebirth), birthdays, Christmas Day, Canada Day (July 1), and even Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays (start of the week-end), and Sundays. But Heaven forbid we should try to make a change on Tuesdays or Thursdays; these are doomed days with no possible rationale for beginning something new.
It seems we are inexorably driven by the need to benchmark, to celebrate or commemorate, to mark special times in some way. I’m only guessing, but I suspect it has to do with the uniquely human ability to have a sense of past and future, as well as being able to ignore the present moment (which is frequently not so pleasant). So we wind up constantly living in the past or looking forward to the future, while forgetting the present moment.
So this year’s New Year’s Resolution is to savor each moment, and when change is needed, to resolve to make it in the immediate next moment. I think I’ll start tomorrow…it is after all, Monday.