The new year won’t change things unless I do the work

Looking back and looking forward.

Let me say this before I go any further: 2020 has been a raging dumpster fire. Between the pandemic, the election, the injustices against people of color, the wildfires in California and Australia, the last 12 months have been full of misery, anxiety, anger, sadness … every emotion imaginable, though not many of the good ones. 

This shit show of a year will be over in a couple days and it seems we are all ready to turn the page. After all that has gone on, a fresh start sounds pretty dang nice. 

I am forced to remind myself, though, that hanging a new calendar on the wall or cracking open a new bullet journal doesn’t mean things will magically change. The pandemic isn’t going to “fade away” on Dec. 31. Everyone won’t instantly agree on politics on Jan. 1. The health of the planet is still going to be in peril and systemic racism will still be a problem. And all the things I struggled with in 2020 will still be things I struggle with when I wake up on Friday morning. 

The above is all true, which is why I am always hesitant to set any New Year’s resolutions. There is no sense to wait around to make changes, no need to pin your hopes on the flip of the calendar to fix things. 

However I say this every year and I still set goals for the upcoming year. I sat down earlier this week with my 2021 bullet journal and actually set goals for the coming year. Health and fitness goals. Creativity goals. Lifestyle goals. Financial goals. These goals are changes I want to make in my life, habits I want to create, ways I want to be better. 

I understand that writing those goals down in a fresh notebook will not make them happen. Turning the page to a new year will not change who I am. I have to put in the work. I have to make changes. 2021 isn’t instantly going to rock just because it isn’t 2021 any more. 

The new year is a good time to reflect back, reset, try to move forward, if only because it is a new chunk of time. I am not waiting around to start to make these changes for the things I hope to achieve in 2021. I am using the calendar, in a sense, as a measure of success or failure, as a time to reset and reflect, a start date for some of the things I hope to get done, changes I hope to make.

The flip of the calendar doesn’t change anything, other than maybe my mentality. I try not to fall into that trap, but let’s be honest, that’s easier said then done.  


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