Five Things to Remember in the New Year

It’s curious to think that the ticking of a number over to another could have such significance in our lives. The new year is a time for tempered reflection and cautious celebration. Each rolling over generates a milestone (of which we have few in our adult lives), automatically cataloguing human existence into neatly packaged 365-day periods. For many, it’s a moment for new beginnings and promises of change; last year was a bad year, but this year will be different.

But even if you’re the type to abhor the notion of new year resolutions and find the holiday pantomime more of a distraction than a compulsion, this time can still be hugely beneficial. And we’re not talking about the small promises we comfort ourselves with only to forget the next day – but the few handy tippets that will help sustain your endurance once the reset button has been hit.

1.     Success isn’t achieved with a promise.

It’s a damning indictment of our society that most new year resolutions are forgotten a week or two after they’re made. Success is earnt through the struggle and not the promise. We can all tell ourselves things will change (and often do), but change isn’t easy. It’s scary and promises a period of discomfort. It is, however, necessary if we’re truly committed to realising our best selves and our chosen goals. Even in business, there’s a danger of romanticising the possibility of change rather than delving headfirst into the experience.

2.     Tomorrow is no substitute for today.

There’s a universal temptation to put off to tomorrow what can be done today. It’s the same for years; big plans get moved and reassigned a year in the name of convenience or in favour of a more ‘apt’ opportunity. Though this can be prudent, timing is seldom perfect on anything. If you’re able to find motivation in the present moment, act on it.

3.     Don’t get distracted by the details.

When we’re planning our next step, it’s easy to get lost in the details. It’s known as the law of triviality, or bike shedding, in which we obsess over the minutiae of our plans. The reason for this is obvious: planning an act is much easier than performing it. In business, this can mean over educating yourself on the likes of marketing strategies, rather than simply implementing one and learning through the experience. Planning is great when used for practical purposes, but a danger when construed as an obstacle to progress.

4.     Learning is an ongoing process.

If there’s a danger in how we neatly wrap up each year, it’s that we dismiss the bad ones, or bury them deep down with all our other wilfully forgotten experiences. But this way of understanding each year (and especially when correlated with useful performance metrics) can produce hugely beneficial lessons. It’s not that we can’t learn day by day, week by week – we can and certainly should. But the year’s end is a moment in which we can pause, look back, understand the broader importance of achievements and failures, and move on.

5.     Difference isn’t guaranteed, but earnt.

Success, whether personal or professional, isn’t measured in 365-day intervals. Realising success is achieved not in the moments we stop for breath and turn back to reflect on our quarry, but in staying the course over long periods of time. The new year carries an implicit promise of change and difference. But take away the calendar, and dates become meaningless; difference is something achieved through concurrent attempts to incite change.