A lot of people embrace the new year with open arms.
But when the clock hits midnight on the night of Dec. 31, what exactly are we celebrating?
We're celebrating a new slate. We're celebrating the reminder (and human ability) to hold ourselves to higher standards. We're celebrating the things we've gained, the lessons we've learned and the friendships we've kept. We're honoring the failures, the pain and the losses -- all of which are there to remind us that we lived through another year.
The collective celebration inspires individuals to be better, do better, live better.
We're inspired every year. This will be the year... the year we run that marathon, start that business, reconnect with that person, have more patience, eat healthier, read those books, learn that language. This is always the year.
We live our lives in a linear timeline, broken up by milestones identified by years. And our emotions at the end of each year revolve around these experiences -- involving both love and pain that we endured in the 364 days prior.
Birthdays, like New Year's Eve, are mile markers for our experiences, societal expectations and our personal goals. At 7, I broke my first bone. At 11, I attended my first funeral. At 18, I graduated high school. At 21, I became an aunt. At 22, I experienced a series of traumatic events causing me to shift my love and purpose from traditional medicine to psychology and mental health. At 24, I moved to a new city and subsequently worked tooth and nail to make a living before landing my dream job at 25.
Life happens, and we're able to recall and remember our lives from our experiences that are marked on a convenient calendar in our brains. But most importantly, new years and birthdays are a celebration of life and existence.
I believe we should try to spend every day working on ourselves, our passions, our relationships and on reaching our goals. By being able to divide life into separate years, it sometimes feels like time might be on our side; but life is short, and most people have two days a year (New Year's Eve and their birthday) that are unavoidable... reminding them to check in on their paths, reflect, celebrate life and also create and pursue new dreams and goals.
I, however, was born on Jan. 1. I get one chance, and my friends and family know I take it very seriously. So how do I combine the madness of New Year's resolutions and the mindset of being a year older all in one day?
Instead of creating an endless list of New Year's resolutions that I will naturally not complete -- because let's be honest, we are all way too ambitious on Jan. 1 -- I choose one word that will be my word, my way of life, for the year to come.
I wait until the first of the year to choose my word, and this past year it was rebirth. Of all my friends and family I've told, no one has understood why... I can't even tell you why. I just knew at the beginning of the year, I needed to make transformational changes. It was something I was seeking, and I even asked my closest friends to send me a few notes of my flaws so I could internalize the need to be a better version of myself.
Accordingly, within a few weeks after my birthday, my oldest childhood friend and I had a falling out... removing toxic relationships from one's life is important but nevertheless devastating. It wasn't until March that I landed a job I love after eight months of looking for something that would make me feel happy and purposeful. It wasn't until August that I ended a four-year relationship with my college sweetheart. And it wasn't until October that I decided to go on a 2.5-week solo trip across the world to be reminded of who I am and find purpose greater than myself.
For 2015, I don't know what my theme will be, but I know that no matter what it is, it will encompass a variety of goals, urging me to be a better version of myself every day. Maybe it will be trust and urge me to trust in my instincts, other people and even the universe, prompting me to learn how to relinquish control over certain things. Or maybe it will be healthy. Instead of setting goals to go to the gym more often or eat healthier, this can serve as a constant reminder for me to make healthy decisions when it comes to my body but also for my mental and emotional health. Or maybe it will be compassion, urging me to do affirmations in the morning and have a kinder internal dialogue with myself through the year.
Whatever it is, picking a theme will inspire me to take action and will inevitably lead to more positive and healthier habits, rather than having a to-do list that weighs me down and makes me feel heavier (and thus more disappointed that I am not crossing things off of it). I encourage you to do the same.