Well, we’re in the New Year, and I’m curious to hear from you: how are you feeling about it? I find that people generally fall into one of these two camps:
“New year new me!”
“The king is dead, long live the king.”
The first group of people likes to use the new year as a neat little breaking point to (attempt to) quit bad habits and start afresh with something new, while the people in the latter camp like to point out that there is nothing special about the new year at all, because besides the calendar absolutely nothing changes from December to January.
And of course, the people in the last group are factually correct. There is technically nothing special about this particular position of the earth in the sun’s orbit that would warrant a fundamental change in one’s life.
But does that mean New Years is therefore meaningless?
You tell me.
After all, meaning is never objective.
The holiest object in existence to one person is complete junk to another. What looks like a perfectly random stranger on the subway to you, to someone else is the love of their life. And the most touching poetry in one language sounds like completely meaningless gibberish to those who don’t speak it.
So the question is not what the objective meaning of New Year’s is. It’s what does it mean to you?
Maybe you like to think of yourself as a ruthless rationalist who doesn’t fall for the sentimentalities of the general public. And there’s nothing wrong with that, necessarily.
If this helps you to get things done in the world, by all means, keep doing it.
But does it, really?
Because it seems like more often than not, it only serves as a convenient excuse to not change anything about your life.
After all, why would you make a radical, breaking change on January 1st (or any other day for that matter) if every day is like any other?
Relativism provides the best excuse you could ever wish for, because it can apply to everything and anything. It’s the gift that keeps on giving, so to speak. No matter what, you’re always off the hook.
Really, it’s intellectualized cowardice.
And I’m not saying this as a moral judgement or to shame you. I’m just saying it to make you realize that the attitude doesn’t serve your goals. If you want to make things happen in your life, but you’re holding on to a belief that prevents that from happening, that belief needs to go.
After all, we’re here to get things done.
And meaning works like nothing else.
It inspires and activates people more than any rational argument in existence.
So if you’re serious about taking charge of your life and career, don’t shy away from symbols.
Don’t be reluctant to assign meaning to “random” things, like midnight on January 1st. Meaning has to live somewhere, after all. So choose a symbol that works for you, and let it work for you.
A flag may only be a colored piece of cloth, but if it helps you to charge into battle, fly that flag! Because it’s better to be inspired by a flag, than to not be inspired at all.
So pick today.
Or pick any other day for that matter.
But make a breaking change.
Draw a line in the sand.
And make it mean something.
This post originally appeared in the DJH newsletter.
Subscribe to DJH to get content like this in your inbox daily or weekly!