The start of a new year is a lot like the release of a new Star Wars movie.
It gets way more hype than it should.
I’ve never been big on making resolutions for each new year. I feel like there’s so much pressure, and oftentimes we end up setting goals that are loftier than they should be, resulting in us not sticking to them—I guess that’s why there are so many jokes out there about how crowded gyms are at the beginning of January and then not so much anymore as the year continues to progress.
I do believe in setting goals, though, and I think it’s something that can be done at any point in the year—it doesn’t solely have to be something that takes place when we have the transition from one year to the next. If I want to start something new and stick to it on May 13, then I can. It doesn’t have to be at the beginning of a year or month or week or whatever. It honestly can be at any single moment when I want to make a change.
But I do see the significance in the “fresh start” that a new year brings. I mean, think about when you have a bad day. You might tell yourself that surely tomorrow will be better and then focus on having a better attitude or outcome the following day. There’s something about newness and fresh beginnings that appeal to people. I guess it makes sense. It’s not necessarily that you’re getting to start over completely, but in a way, you sort of are. It’s kind of like when you run a race or play a game—whether you run your best or worst or somewhere in the middle or win or lose, you get a clean slate the next time you step on the starting line, field or court. You get to go in there with a completely new mindset that good things are going to happen.
And sometimes you need that in order to move past what was a race or game or day or month or semester or year that you simply really want to forget.
I think it’s a natural human tendency to want to reflect upon a year that’s drawing to a close and classify it as good or bad, successful or not so successful, difficult or wonderful, and a number of other adjectives that won’t be completely accurate depictions of every aspect of your entire year. I know I could think of a lot of things to say about the challenges and hurt I faced in 2016, but they wouldn’t highlight those precious memories that I want to hold in my heart forever.
So maybe each year really isn’t necessarily a new beginning—rather, it’s a continuation of the stories we’re living out. It’s an opportunity for us to grow and learn more about ourselves and those around us. It’s a period of time to love and make differences as often as we can. It’s a collection of moments full of chances and setbacks, wins and losses, hopes fulfilled and hearts broken, courage and fear, laughter and tears, joy and sorrow, and a number of other ups and downs.
For a good chunk of December, I spent a lot of time waiting for 2016 to end. But, honestly, the turning of a page in the calendar doesn’t magically change things. Sure, there’s the mentality of that “fresh start” notion, but I think life should be lived by moments, not by years. Everything can change so quickly, and we have no clue how long we’re going to be here, so I feel like it makes sense to try to make every single moment matter. I’d like that to be my life resolution. I guarantee I’m going to fail probably more times than I’d like to think about, but hopefully I’ll also do well more often than not.
On the first day of this new year, I sat at a dinner table with a family that has become so dear to me over the years I’ve known them that I consider them family of my own. So much has changed in all of our lives since I met them, and it’s been so wonderful to be part of their journeys and to have them as part of mine, too. We shared stories and jokes and even belted out Plus One’s “Written on My Heart” at one point. (I mean, if you’re not singing cheesy Christian boy band songs after dinner, what are you really doing in life?) It was a refreshing reminder that I’ve been given so many incredible people who have impacted me in big ways—moment by moment.
A lot of things happened in 2016—some good, some bad. Regardless, they happened, and the individual events that happened in each of our lives likely helped mold us even more into the people we are now. Rather than looking at the entire year, I’m going to try to focus more on the moments. I know people often talk about looking more at the big picture, but I think there are times when we need to look at the smaller pictures within the big pictures, instead. After all, sometimes one line in a song can stick with you more than the entire song itself.
And no matter what the year ahead holds for you, there’s a new opportunity in every moment you’re given—and you don’t have to wait 365 days to make those moments count.