The New Year is Meaningless

But 2020 can be more powerful than you think.

Are you over the whole “new year’s resolutions” and “new year, new you” thing?

Yeah, me too. I was over it 10 years ago.

I’ll admit – every year it still has a bit of an appeal. Your friends mention their new year’s resolutions. Social media tries to inspire you to change (or make you feel horrible for not doing anything). Blog posts (like this one) try to give you tips on taking on the new year.

But we’ve all experienced enough of these to know it’s pointless to try. We go into January with high hopes and grand goals. It’s a struggle, and there may be some setbacks, but we do fairly well in January.

Then February hits. Life goes on and gets busy. We’ve lost the luster of the new year – it doesn’t seem so new anymore. The failures start piling up. It gets too hard. Before February is over, we’ve abandoned our resolutions, sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally.

So like you, after experiencing enough failed Februaries, I’ve given up on new year’s resolutions. It’s not that I’ve given up on goals or change. Throughout the year, I still try new things, create new habits, and generally improve myself. But it loses the oomph of that new year inspiration.

I know that January 1st isn’t magical, but it’s still effective in spurring people into action. Perhaps the secret to achieving goals, creating habits, catalyzing change, and improving oneself is in making the mundane magical.

Even though the new year is an arbitrary and meaningless date on the calendar, and even though the year 2020 is nothing more than coincidental numbers – you can still inject enough meaning into it to make it useful for creating the changes you want.

January 1 is nothing special

I know we’re probably all in agreement here, but let’s just quickly cover this so we’re at the same starting point.

January 1st is meaningless. There’s nothing special about the Earth’s location at that specific point in its orbit around the sun. Even the clock striking midnight is celebrated at different times around the world – there’s not one unifying moment in time.

If it were a few days earlier, such as on December 21st during the winter solstice, that might have some mild meaning. We would celebrate the shortest day of the year (in terms of daylight). Every day going forward will now be longer, and metaphorically, have more opportunity. Well, at least for the next 6 months. And only for the northern hemisphere.

New Year’s Day means nothing.

We add meaning to meaningless dates

We have holidays that have nothing to do with the dates. The dates of Christmas and Easter have no correlation to the events for which they’re celebrated. Other major holiday’s like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s and Father’s Day, and Thanksgiving, are all just random dates. Some of them aren’t even the same date every year – they change annually.

We know that there is nothing special about that particular date. And yet we still attribute meaning to it. Valentine’s is a day of romanticism. Thanksgiving is about gratitude. Christmas embodies peace, love, joy, generosity, and all those warm fuzzy feelings.

And new year’s day, well, we’ve attributed hope and change to it.

Fake meaning still produces real action

On Valentine’s Day, couples make intentional plans to be romantic – buying gifts, going on special dates, and acting “extra nice.” February 14th is an arbitrary date, yet we ascribe meaning to it and act in accordance.

On Thanksgiving, families and friends gather together to share a meal and express the things they’re grateful for – at the table and on social media.

People of all faiths and backgrounds still celebrate Christmas by decorating, giving gifts, and gathering together… or going on vacations.

The point is that despite the arbitrary dates on the calendar, we put meaning into them, and that meaning causes us to act. They’re not necessarily fake actions. What we do on holidays mostly lines up with existing goals we have for ourselves – to strengthen our relationships and to be better people.  The holiday is an excuse that helps us focus those broad goals into specific action at a specific time. It helps initiate the change that we’ve always wanted but don’t act upon.

What makes a day special is the meaning that we as people put into it.

Make up a meaning to accomplish what you want

So back to new year’s day. January 1st is no different than December 31st or January 2nd. Nothing in the cosmos has changed all that much. Yet it is special because we as humans have the ability to give meaning to meaningless things.

So what if you know that, astronomically, January 1st is just other day in the earth’s orbit? If giving it some special meaning helps you finally break a habit, start a habit, try something new, or do something to improve yourself, then why not?

Did you miss January 1st? Who says it has to be that date? Make February 1st or March 1st the day you commit to making a change. Have a thing for numbers? Make it 3/3 or 11/11. Want to be more “connected” to the universe? Do it on the spring equinox (March 19), the summer solstice (June 20), the autumnal equinox (September 22), or the winter solstice (December 21). Heck, you can even make it May 4th (Star Wars Day – May the Fourth be with you… to change your life).

The point is that you as a human being have the power to ascribe meaning to anything you want. And when that thing has meaning, it now has this incredible power – the power that you put into it – to compel you to act and change.

Make 2020 your banner year

2020 is just another year. Except that it has a fun little number sequence. And that number just happens to have similarities with our standard for measuring eyesight – 20/20 vision.

Sure, the year 2020 is nothing special, but you can make it mean something.

Outside of new year’s resolutions, you do still have goals. There are habits you want to break. There are habits you want to build. There are places you want to go, things you want to do, and people you want to meet. There are ways you want to improve yourself. New year’s day or not, those goals for change will always exist, but are often not acted upon.

Give yourself permission to use 2020 as an excuse. Put meaning into this year. Make this the year you see your life with clarity, with “20/20 vision.” Make this the year you start making change – not just January 1, but the whole freaking year.

Will you succeed and accomplish all your goals? Maybe not. But at least you’ll start and try. Perhaps in later years, you’ll find more success – all because you chose to start this year.

So make 2020 your banner year, the year everything changed. Several years from now, when you’ve developed the habits you wanted, when you achieved the goals you set, when your life is on the trajectory that you hoped for – you can look back and point to 2020 as the year that started it all.

And for me? Well I’ve always wanted to write a book. But I know that’s not going to happen this year. It’s not even going to start this year. But this year, I’m committing to writing more blog articles than ever. Even if I only write 10% more than I did last year, this year will be the start of becoming a book author.

I’ve always wanted to make important documentaries. That’s not going to happen this year. But this year, I’m going to start vlogging and talking about the issues that matter to me. Even if I only make 2 or 3 videos, this year will be the start of becoming a film maker.

The list goes on longer for me.

But what about you? What meaning will you put into 2020? When you look back years from now, what will 2020 have been the start of?

This year means nothing. But you have the ability to instill meaning and make the mundane magical. 

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