At Midnight, nothing changed
There is such expectation for 2022 to really deliver for us. This week our email salutations may even include wishes of prosperity and happiness that are mostly missing the rest of the year. And yet despite the champagne toasts and sense of possibility when our clocks strike midnight on 12/31, the evidence suggests you’re not going to reinvent yourself and transform suddenly to the more perfect version you’ve always wanted to be. Your goals are too high with too many obligations, and your problems are too complex. Sorry, but it’s a New Year with the Old You.
Now before you think I started the year off with a bad hangover, hear me out.
The problem isn’t that you can’t change, it’s that your expectation about the amount of time and effort it will take doesn’t fit reality as well as Dom Perignon in crystal glasses. Real change—the type we dream about on New Year’s Eve—requires sustained, consistent effort, long after the euphoria that inspired the idea wears off.
So what can you do so you don’t find yourself in mid-January already frustrated about your prospects for 2022? Two suggestions.
Forgive yourself for the messes you’ve created. Drop the fantasy that somehow you’re eventually going to get your shit together. No one has their shit together, we’re all messy, just doing the best we can. We’re all going to make plenty of messes in 2022, so accept your perpetual mess-making self. I’m not saying drop all pursuits of self-improvement and let it all hang out. I’m saying become your biggest cheerleader and quickly forgive yourself when things don’t work out so well. Have self-compassion. The research is clear on this: Those who practice self-forgiveness are happier and have better outcomes overall.
Be practical, choose ONE thing to change, and resource it appropriately. This speaks to two important concepts. First, choosing one thing vs many things is a proven concept of productivity and change. A great resource and one of my favorite books on this topic is The One Thing. Second, while choosing is powerful, it isn’t enough. You have to align your calendar, your environment, your actions, and your financial resources to that one thing for you to move the needle.
My wish for you is that you celebrate 2022 with great optimism and a sense of possibility, and give yourself some credit. You’re pretty damn awesome as you are. But let’s get real. You have to combine that with a vision for your future self, some good old-fashioned prioritization, planning, and action, and you’ll be unstoppable with your goals in 2022. Albeit as messy and loveable as you have always been.
Happy New Year,