THE BLOG
12/30/2015 10:33 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Why New Year's Day Is an Illusion

2015-12-30-1451436178-4683169-sJANUARY1CALENDARsmall.jpgIf you're like me, you're uneasily thinking about writing up some New Year's resolutions. Maybe you go easy on yourself and call it "setting intentions" instead.

And also, if you're like me, you have an elaborate belief system bolstered by even more elaborate set of compensation mechanisms built in to protect you from ever actually effecting change.

Mine go something like this:

  1. I have to begin (dieting, exercising, meditating, journaling, learning a new language, taking up pogo stick high jumping) on New Year's Day. It's the first day of the new year!
  2. Except it's a holiday and there are often parties and gatherings, so maybe it would be better to start the following Monday.
  3. But the following Monday is an inauspicious date. It's the fourth of the month. Who starts things on the fourth of the month? I'll wait until the 15th.
  4. But the 15th is a Friday, I can't start (insert life-changing thing here) on a Friday!
  5. So maybe I should wait until the first of February. That's a Monday!

But there's the thing. While the beginning of a new year sounds like the ideal time to set about creating transformation, cleaning out your closets, or losing three inches of belly fat, the idea that New Year's Day is special is simply an illusion. There's nothing special about Jan. 1. Or the 15th. Or any Monday of any week of the year. And believing otherwise is actually a great set-up for a fall. Because when we don't get started on this or that day, we give ourselves permission to procrastinate until the next "perfect" date rolls around.

And so it goes.

A revolution can start any old time. Think about it. Dates themselves have no meaning. At one time, Jan. 1, Dec. 25, Oct. 31, and Dec. 7 (remember Pearl Harbor?) all had no meaning at all, because the things that defined those days hadn't happened yet. In fact, there was a time when our forebears were on a different calendar altogether. Those dates didn't even exist.

We are the ones who give meaning to our days, just as we do to our circumstances. We get to decide if today, tomorrow, the next day, or Groundhog Day is the perfect day for whatever we wish. So if New Year's Eve or Day are significant to you and you want to make them into a fresh start, do so. Or, you know, you could wait until Monday.

Any day, as it turns out, is the perfect day to start living the life you say you want.