Around this time of year, people will jokingly ask one another “So, what’s your New Year’s resolution?” Of course, it is a joke because many of us don’t believe people are all that serious about their resolutions. Just talk to any personal trainer or gym owner. More fatalistically, others believe that people can’t change, or that they are condemned to their circumstance. This pervasive nihilism is quite rampant, and it’s the number one threat to personal development and self-improvement. If you don’t think that what you do matters, you’ll stop doing it. At least, you’ll stop doing anything that doesn’t make you feel good in the moment. Or worse, never start. This of course explains the ubiquitous presence of motivational posts online and speakers in public – it can be a quick slide into hopelessness. And unfortunately, it only really takes one good, solid shove to push people down that direction.
But that is no reason at all for not trying. As it turns out, everything you do matters. It matters for you as well as those around you. Life is a responsibility because we all affect our physical and social environments in ways we can hardly understand, let alone anticipate. But the better and stronger we are, the easier we can bear that responsibility. The difference between being where you are now and where you want to be is not as far off as it may seem. You only become that person by chaining together enough “yes” moments that you make a habit out of your goal. Every time you say “yes”, you make the subsequent one that much easier. With enough time you won’t need to convince yourself of anything, it will become second nature. And so with that in mind, let’s take a look at the “why” behind the “how”.
A few simple suggestions…
Here are three reasons to make your 2019 better than 2018:
- Life only feels worth it when you’re working for it.
- You don’t know how good your life can be.
- You owe it to the people around you.
1. Life only feels worth it when you’re working for it.
Ever been on a vacation and gotten bored mid-way through? Or had too many days-off in a row? That feeling of restlessness set in when you’ve gone too long without anything productive to do? Perhaps you notice a little growth around your waistline from too many afternoons sitting relaxed on your couch watching television? When life gets too good, too predictable, we begin to lose interest. We lose our edge and become complacent. Nothing is being risked, and therefore nothing is being gained either. A state of stagnation has set in and it can easily become a permanent state. This is not a good place to be.
When we are trying something new, potentially dangerous and risky (as in, victory is not assured), life takes on a new quality. We see through different eyes – the eyes of a person struggling. Humbled. Excited, like a child because a world of possibility has re-opened before them. Life only feels worth it when you’re working for it. A cold glass of beer tastes best after a long day of work, just like a short nap feels best after grueling physical labor. Work is good for us. Otherwise we become soft, envious, easy to manipulate, and frankly, just plain boring. And being uninteresting can really kill your chances at most ventures in life.
2. You don’t know how good your life can be.
If you don’t take a chance on something new, then you don’t know what the upper limit to your success or happiness can be. Being somewhat naturally risk averse, we try to make calculated decisions about how to spend our time and energy. There are certain things we would like to avoid experiencing, such as humiliation and frustration. Particularly when it is needless. But this mindset can be limiting. It takes a little bit (sometimes a lot) of discomfort to mature. At some point you learn Santa wasn’t real. A little later, you learn about the income tax. Wisdom comes at a price. But so too does success. If you want to experience glory, you must be willing to suffer embarrassment. If you want to look good in front of a mirror, you have to spend a few weeks with quads too sore for a flight of stairs.
If you are never willing to look past the initial discomfort or uncertainty of something, then you’ll never know what your life truly could have been like. I mentioned Erik Erikson in a previous blog, the greatest despair one can experience is the realization that one has wasted their time. We are constrained by certain facts of reality, like age and time. You don’t want to look back at your life and regret the things that you didn’t do. That kind of regret hurts more than regretting actual mistakes made. I’ve witnessed this first hand among some of my older clients; there’s no reason you need to set yourself up for that too.
3. You owe it to the people around you.
Are you in a relationship? Want your partner to still feel as interested in you as they did from the first date? Well, challenge yourself. Have children? The more you struggle, the more your children will see that and have that kind of ethic drilled into them. Are you a business owner or service provider? Your clients will benefit from your dedication to self-improvement. The stronger you are, the stronger everyone around you will be. I’m not saying that you should only do things that are beneficial for others, but there is a virtue to it. We don’t often hear messages encouraging us to feel possessive or protective of those around us, in a benevolent way of course. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and a community is only as strong as its weakest member.
What can you do this year that:
- You can become good at,
- That’s stimulating to you,
- That there is also a need for,
- And is something that others can benefit from?
Make that your New Year’s Resolution, and you will find no shortage of motivation. Nihilism will never be your enemy. But if you have moments stricken with doubt, then you can always come back to this blog and get your perspective back.
Thank you for reading, and don’t forget to share this blog! To schedule an appointment, please email me at email@example.com or call at (347) 460 – 2703