It is human instinct to wait for the rise of a novelty to indulge in a new routine. We look for a rising sun or a turn of a century to start changing our lives, believing that an externally evolving circumstance will enforce a change in our internal selves. That is why we wait for a new year to set goals and resolutions.
But as the sun went down in 2021 and rose in 2022, what fundamentally shifted about ourselves? In the last 10 seconds of 2021 and the first 10 seconds of 2022, what distinct framework for our lives was challenged, thrown away and newly implemented? Did our mindsets immediately change just because “2022” popped onto our calendars?
The honest answer is: nothing. Nothing changed. Maybe a new sense of joy entered your life as you popped your champagne bottles and toasted to taking on the new year with loved ones by your side.
But people believe they will change in the new year because it is a time to set goals and move into a fresh period, where mistakes do not yet define them. People often describe a year in their life when they succeeded the most, claiming that “2019 was my favorite year,” or “2020 ripped me a new one.” But until people realize that the changing of a calendar will not transform their life, their attitudes and routines will stay the same.
The key to embarking on a changing lifestyle is to realize that, every day, we have a chance to set a new goal or change who we are as people. It does not matter whether the sun is going down in one year and will rise in another; it matters that the sun is going down on one day and will rise in a new one.
We love the novelty of a new year, but often overlook the novelty of a new day. We forget to pay our gratitude to the sunrise, as it signifies a turn of events, where we can wake up and challenge ourselves in the way we challenge ourselves at the beginning of a year.
During the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, I was cooped up in the mountains of Georgia pretending I was Rapunzel, the damsel in distress with a fabulous mane of hair waiting to be freed from captivity. However, playing the role of a Disney princess was not as easy as I expected; I awaited a time to challenge my routine. I woke up every morning asking if today was the day that I took advantage of the time I was given to hang out with my family, revel in the fresh outdoors or intellectually stimulate myself. I looked for an external change in the month or week, thinking that the start of something new would elicit the start of a new me.
However, the second I realized that a rising sun is significant enough to change my routine, I transformed my life. On Saturday, May 2, 2020, reality hit me in the face and made me realize that each day is a time to reset and reemerge as a goal setter and go-getter, so I started to work out. I broke out of my Rapunzel character and assumed a Moana essence. I ran nearly 3 miles every day, channeling peak athleticism and overstimulated endorphins, making me the most active, laughable citizen of north Georgia.
It did not take the turn of the decade or a countdown for me to begin running — it simply took one special sunrise in 2020.
This habit of mine continues today and has led me to challenge myself in greater ways that did not succeed a New Year’s resolution. About two days before Thanksgiving this year, I decided that I wanted to run 13.1 miles and prove to myself that I could push myself past what I thought was impossible. After two hours and a half marathon under my belt, I lied in the pain of overworked muscles, understanding that it did not take a special turn of dates or years to accomplish something new. It took a rising sun and a can-do mindset.
I often compare these two midyear accomplishments to my past New Year’s resolutions and realize that these lifestyle changes outweigh any shifts in my routine brought on by a new year. I attribute this to the difference between an obligation versus voluntary commitment.
With new years, people feel obligated to change. But with new days, people voluntarily add to their commitments or goals. This is why a continuous dedication to resolutions sparks greater change than an annual declaration.
Though it took me a vast amount of time and experience to comprehend the power of a sunrise in attaining goals and seizing the day, I now see the turn of a new year almost as a buffer period. People use it as a tool for procrastination in setting goals and renewing routine patterns instead of a time for reflection and celebration. The new year should be utilized as an affirmation for the successful routine we have been engaging in, opposed to a time where we begin a new one.
This new year, I am looking back at 2021 and reflecting on the good and bad, my pitfalls and my climaxes. I don’t need it to embark on a journey of new resolutions, because an ordinary day would do just fine for that.