The New Year shows up every year heralding our hopes of change. As Barak Obama’s book title states so well, each year we have the audacity to hope for change. More often than not, however, we don’t see that change. For Jews, the New Year seems to come twice a year – once with the Jewish New Year and once with the secular New Year. Each time, we make the same resolutions, the same commitments, to change. We again have the audacity to hope that this time we will follow through and that change will actually occur.
What stops us from creating that change? I don’t think it’s lack of desire but possibly fear of what it will take to actually create that change. What will we have to do? What will we have to give up? How hard will it be? How much effort and time will it take? What might we lose in the process?
Let’s face it: It’s easier to keep things the same – even if we don’t like our current situation. Keeping things the same requires little effort. We just do what we’ve been doing. As success coaches like to say, our current habits have managed to get us where we are now with our current level of success. To achieve a new level of success, we need new habits.
I saw first hand, however, how someone I know changed his habits recently and his life. My stepson, realizing that his girlfriend might never change her habits and might never share his desires for settling down and having a family, picked up and not only left his relationship of six years but also all his friends and the place he’d lived for 12 years of his life. He moved to another state, moved in with a relative and enrolled in college to finish the two years he had left before he could earn a degree. While he used to be a C, D, and F college student, he is now getting straight As.
That type of change not only takes effort but courage. That’s real change. Most of us don’t need to change that much to achieve our goals for the New Year.
This young man has also changed as a person. He’s matured. He’s gotten clear about his goals. He’s become a hard worker. He’s become disciplined and thoughtful.
If he can change, we can all change. He symbolizes our ability to change, to get out of our ruts and habits and to go for what we want, to do what we know we need to do to get where we want to go in life.
So, who among you will not just make a resolution this year but actually create change? Who will actually do something differently?
Pick one thing. Don’t make a resolution – you don’t want to “resolve” to do something. That has a negative connotation. Instead commit to doing that one thing, to doing whatever it takes to make that one change happen in your life this year. Eat a little less at each meal. Get up and meditate for 10 minutes each day. Go for a walk or a run at lunch time. Read a book at bedtime instead of watching television. Write that book by spending 2 hours each weekend at your computer. Actually talk to your spouse or your children while in the car. Whatever the change is you want to make, make it. Change your habit. Do something differently.
It’s a new year. And, yes, it’s possible to change.