Hello, Twenty-Twelve.

Welcome to 2012! I realize it’s really just another Sunday, but for me the 1st of the year always seems to feel like the beginning of something. Call it my personal susceptibility to general holiday hoopla, however I feel that there is something a bit more substantial to New Year’s Day than any regular Hallmark money maker.

And let’s get real here, just how many New Year’s cards can they really sell?

To me, New Year’s Day and the onset of a new year in general symbolizes more than champagne hangovers, fireworks, and crooning Auld Lang Syne. There is something very tangible and concrete to me about the passing of one year into another; whether we want to relish in the year we’ve had or run as fast as we can into a new beginning, there is an overarching sense of opportunity in the air. I love the word opportunity—it holds within in so much potential for growth, excitement, and new experiences.

Certainly, I wholly believe that if you are in need of a change or if you’re looking for a reason to improve upon your life, there is no time like the present. I don’t think there’s any reason really to wait until the “New Year’s excuse” comes around to make life-altering decisions. Unfortunately, looking for an excuse to make a change doesn’t necessarily yield to best results in my experience. However, despite the fact that I believe self-improvement can and should exist all year, that does not negate the fact that the transition from one year into another presents us with a great chance for reflection.

Because of the concreteness of a year, 52 weeks, 365 days, 8760 hours, however you choose to measure it, the ability to partition our triumphs, struggles, and everything in between seems to be easier.

I don’t look at New Year’s in the sense of, “Okay, now that there is a new calendar to put up—everything in my life is going to magically change for the better.” However, I do believe that the New Year indicates that there is a page turning, whether we’d like it to our not, and it begs the question, how will we respond?

Certainly, change happens year round, but when we are able to look in retrospect at the year behind us, I find that deciphering the lessons and experiences we’ve had becomes more accessible. Therefore, we have a beautiful opportunity to take what we’ve learned and allocate it toward the year in front of us.

I encourage you to look at the best parts of 2011, and take the time to pick apart exactly why those parts were so good. If we can look at memorable circumstances in their entirety, as in the events before, during, and after, we can become that much closer to defining exactly what we need in our lives to be happy.

The same thing goes for the opposite. If there was a part of 2011 that wasn’t so good, try and figure out what contributing factors existed that made the time less favorable. Certainly, unplanned bad things happen without warning, and we should look at what we learned from those unfortunate circumstances and figure out how we can handle the next obstacle. However (and I’m saying this from personal experience) there are also bad times that weren’t tied to any one particular event. Certainly, I found little things at the time to blame, but ultimately I know that there was a conglomeration of little mishaps that led me into a negative space. Looking back, I know that those bad times were due to some circumstantial reasons, but also due to reasons within my control. By recognizing these self-inflicted short-comings, I can be wary of them in the upcoming year and hopefully avoid them by being more proactive.

All in all, I believe in the power of New Year’s. Resolutions can be cheesy, and often times they fade in time, but I truly think there is something progressive and important about our ability to consider changes. Turning the page into a new year forces us to consider what could be; new goals to accomplish, habits to break and make, and general nuances of everyday life that can be tweaked to better our day-to-day happiness. A resolution can be as monumental as completing your list of 14ers to climb, or as simple as adding a piece of fruit to your diet every day, but no matter what suits you—I leave you with one piece of wisdom: It’s a lot easier to act your way into a new way of thinking, than to think your way into a new way of acting.

{thanks for that one, Mom 🙂 }

In other words, instead of concentrating all your resolution-energy on thinking about how to go about it, how your life will be better because of it, and how many people you can tell about it, just do it. I’m not intending to get all Nike-simplistic about this, but the fact of the matter is even if you’re apprehensive or unsure about your resolution becoming a reality—your time will be much more worthwhile if it’s spent living the way you’d like to as opposed to worrying or planning how to do it.

Your resolution is to run half-marathon this year? Instead of worrying about how you’ll ever run 13.1 miles when you haven’t run in years, how about you channel that energy in putting on running shoes and going out for just 20 minutes? You can walk, run, skip, whatever—but the fact is that you will undoubtedly spend that amount of time (if not more) stressing about whether or not you can do it.

{Aren’t I super creative with my resolution examples?}

Here’s a secret: You can do just about anything. I believe that whole heartedly. The real question is not whether you can or you can’t, but will you? There’s a reason why “when there’s a will there’s a way” is such a popular motivation quote. Sure, mantras are cheesy, but this one is absolutely true in my opinion—and when we focus more on our inherent will to make something happen as opposed to our potential for failure, our goals become more under our control. If you want something bad enough, and if you understand that the best rewards necessitate discipline, then there should be nothing stopping you from taking action.

Please know that these are words that I have to tell myself every day. I often times doubt myself, question my goals, and deliberate for days, weeks, months over the things I want in my life; in no way am I preaching a method of living that I’ve mastered.

No, not even close.

I do, however, encourage you to consider acting instead of merely thinking or wishing. Certainly, we will fall short of our goals from time to time, whether big or small. However, we will never accomplish anything without trying. I have found that there is greater reward in trying and failing as opposed to letting fear get in the way of even trying at all. We learn from our failures, and we build resilience to handle just about anything we’re faced with.

Let this mentality help drive you toward your big goals—traveling to new places, finishing a marathon, or learning a different language—but also in smaller, day-to-day goals: Going to a yoga class, organizing your desk, or even finishing a chapter in a book. Celebrating our small scale accomplishments helps give us a sense of self-fulfillment, which slowly but surely will help build our confidence in our potential on a grand scale.

Happy 2012! I’ll be sharing my own personal resolutions tomorrow, and I hope everyone has had a relaxing, happy holiday season.

What are your resolutions or goals for this upcoming year? Do you think resolutions are cheesy or worthwhile?

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