When Does Our New Year Really Start?

Monday night is coming up fast, and with it all the joys of the holiday. It’s all about overpriced prix fixe restaurant menus, suburban amateur drinkers throwing up curbside, overpriced hotel rooms, overpriced everything, and to make it even more enjoyable – bars with people 6 deep and nowhere to move. To think I used to embrace being a sardine in a club. Go big, we told ourselves; let’s get cleaned up and hit it hard!

These days I’m inclined to crave home, friends, a good meal, exquisite wines and spirits, and perhaps a bloody mary bar the next morning with football games galore.

We toast, we hug it out, we celebrate, and the calendar page turns – a new year is underway.

With January 1 comes promises we make to ourselves; we vow to make the upcoming year better, richer and healthier. Those poor employees at our local gyms will be slammed, for a few weeks at least. For a week or two we’ll schlep through rain and wind, determined to hit that treadmill. Then the passion fades, and we punish ourselves for our failure to follow through.

The fact that we fail at something is far from the point. It’s what we do with our failures, what we do next.. Repeated failures mean we’re trying. It’s a badge of honor, not something to be ashamed of. Just ask the woman who created five failed start-ups before cashing in on new company #6. She had to do 1 to get to 2. She had to do a few to get it right.

So you’ve tried to kick those cigarettes ten times. Great, I say. Keep failing. You are well on your way to freedom, friend. You are doing what many are unwilling to do – to try again.

Our new year and our fresh start begins the day we make a move, any kind of move forward. For many of us it might not be Tuesday. It might not be February 1.

It will be the day we look in the mirror and say…”I’m ready”.

Your better year begins when you say it does.

What will you do in 2013? What will you be? I tell bewildered students at school all the time that not knowing the answer is perfectly acceptable. After all, some people go through their entire life having no idea what they really want to do. I tell them if they want to be a sculptor they should first decide what kind of lifestyle a young sculptor can keep up while doing what they love. They might live in a 260 square foot micro apartment on the less desirable side of town, but won’t it be nice to be damned happy.

It’s dangerous to focus on material possessions, on stuff. They are fun and nice to have, but they can trap you. People that drive fancy cars are not happier than you are. They’re not. They are richer, yes, but that has absolutely nothing to do with bliss. Perhaps your new passion will also make it possible for you to have a fabulous house. Why not?

Passion is only created by first doing the work. Your passion is not something you “have” and just match up with a job. Passion for something is generated first by trying something new, in a safe and small way. Maybe it’s through volunteerism or a temporary gig. You try. Perhaps you fail. Wonderful.

Maybe somewhere along the way you discover you are both good at a particular kind of task…and you enjoy it. Now you’re creating a recipe for something special.

Having curiosity about what a different – or in my students’ case, a new – career might look and feel like is a great beginning. It’s okay to be curious. It’s okay to have a list of possibilities to narrow down. While we have plenty of time to decide, we don’t have all that long to live. It’s funny how a year flies by, then another, then another…

When our New Year’s Day is a state of mind and not a page on a calendar, we’ll know it’s go time.

I’m cheering you on.

Here’s a toast, to you.

Happy 2013.

Signature photoJohn Scott is a media instructor, online education coordinator and the career services manager at the School of Multimedia Communications, Academy of Art University, San Francisco. He also counsels individuals and groups in the art of reinvention. John’s debut book Broken Glass and Barbed Wire is creeping ever closer to being real.



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