It’s a new year in most (but not all) of the world. A passage point I’ve always felt was in the wrong place. But who am I to argue with four or five billion other people.
For K12 teachers in the US, this is more like half time, a break between the real learning of the fall semester and the test preparation of the spring. Ok, maybe a little cynical but certainly a reality for many kids in the past ten to fifteen years.
This is also a point at which many people offer up resolutions, not unlike sacrifices to the gods of winter, to change something about their lives. Exercise more, eat better, spend time on more worthy pursuits. But one thing I’ve learned over my many new years is, that approach doesn’t work for me. And, I suspect, many others as well, based on the many of those resolutions that are abandoned before the Ides of March.
I think most people rarely submit to substantial internal change without some kind of major outside force demanding that it happen. Something other than an artificial social convention like the beginning of a new calendar.
The most recent instance for me was leaving Fairfax County schools (aka the overly-large school district)last August after many years in their bureaucracy. In addition to continuing personal projects over the past few months, I’ve also thought a lot about other things I want to do. Getting into a regular routine has been harder than I expected and something that will require more effort.
One goal I set for myself was to do more writing in this space. I thought that would be easy with the extra time available but the process appears to require more than time. I finally decided to make an effort to post something every day in December. Most of the entries probably would have been better if they sat in the draft folder a while longer (and at least a few should have been deleted before hitting publish), but it’s a small start to getting into a new rhythm.
Anyway, enough rambling for now. Whether you view January 1 as the beginning of a new year or just another check-in point on a longer road, I hope the coming 12 months are good ones. Full of new opportunities to take advantage of, not resolutions to be abandoned.
Some wonderful inspirationÂ for the new year from a 2012 graduation address by author Neil Gaiman:
I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.
Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.
So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.
Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.
Make your mistakes, next year and forever.
Although the talk is great, it’s hard to recommend the book since the graphic design distracts from the message. Watch the video instead.
In the spirt of Doug Johnson’s regular Blast from the Past feature, this post has been dredged up from my first year of writing this blog. The thoughts still seem appropriate, with a couple of update notes.
We celebrate New Year’s Day on the wrong day!
The term “New Year” implies the beginning of something important but let’s face it, nothing really starts on January 1 except the diet that you’ll forget before the groundhog arrives. Plus, by that time most people are pretty well strung out on holiday celebrations starting with Thanksgiving five to six weeks before.
Instead of January 1, today, September 1st, would make a far better choice to begin the year since so many significant beginnings occur around this date anyway. Just a few examples…
- This weekend marks the end of summer and of people returning from vacation — both the real ones and daydream versions. (Not a lot of real work gets done in most offices during August anyway.) In fact, meteorologists consider September 1 to be the start of the fall season.
- The football season — the NFL (which is as close to a national religion as we get), college and high school — begins around this date. Ignore those games in August. Everybody knows, the preseason doesn’t mean a thing.
- Schools and colleges begin their academic year around September 1 — at least traditionally. Many school systems have backed their starting date into August, some of them to the first week of the month. But most students don’t take things seriously (some don’t even show up) until after the 1st.
- The new television season for the four real broadcast networks (and two amateur affairs, UPN and the WB) also traditionally starts around this time. Ok, that may not be a cause for celebration.Â
- The fall is when movie studios roll out their “serious”, Oscar-worthy films as opposed to the loud, over budget, special effect heavy crap they offer in the summer.
- Today is the first day of the Christmas selling season. Maybe that’s stretching things — a little — but Hallmark stores already have their ornaments out and I’ve seen Christmas displays in several other stores.
- Finally, the weather is better for celebrating. Wouldn’t you rather be standing outside celebrating at midnight on August 31 than December 31?
So, wish everyone you see today a happy new year and let’s see if we can get this movement rolling! But please don’t tell me how crazy I am. The family and friends, who have heard this rant for many years, have already let me know. :-)
I’ve never seen much use for celebrating the start of a new year on this particular day, for reasons you can read in these posts if you would like.
However, this year I’m making an exception. Considering the amount of personal and professional crap that piled up by the end of 2013, capped off by a particularly depressing “holiday” season, I’m feeling like a reboot is in order. Some big changes are in order.
At this point I have no idea how that change will manifest itself. Someone wiser than me observed that big changes always come in the form of many small alterations so that philosophy will make a good foundation. I do know that one of those small steps will be creating more content on the web, both in these spaces and elsewhere, for better or worse.
So today is the beginning of what will be a productive, happy, and successful year for me. I hope 2014 is the same for you, however you define those metrics.
Photo: one perspective on change
It’s no great philosophical observation but sometimes life hits you in the head and insists that you pay attention to something other than what you had planned. I won’t go into detail but that’s the basic explanation for the month-long silence in this space and my almost silence in other channels over the same period.
So, as most of the world celebrates Julius Caesar’s largely artificial construct of resetting the calendar on this date (September still seems like a more relevant point), I’m going forward very confident that 2013 will be much better than the last part of 2012.
Happy new year, everyone and I hope the same holds true for you.