New Year’s is coming. Fast. And you know what always comes with it, simply because of the holiday that it is…pressure to resolve to do something. And for a lot of people, the emotional weight of that can be intimidating. That’s because most people associate December 31st with resolutions (and, of course, booze) and that can put a lot of unwanted pressure on us to come up with some lifechanging, mind blowing pledge that we feel compelled to keep.
So, what I’d like to do this year is arm you with an idea (a quote, actually) that I think will help soften that pressure as we round into the New Year. Something that, at the same time, might also infuse you with just the right amount of inspiration and motivation.
Let me explain. I’m a huge sucker for inspirational quotes. Always have been. Maybe that’s because I’m more of a visual person than I am anything else, so I relate better with things that I can physically connect with, like signs and photos and sayings. (That probably explains why every inch of wall space in our house is filled with inspirational signs and artwork.)
And there’s this one quote that I absolutely love. In fact, I keep coming back to it around this time of year because it always manages to fill me with just the right amount of encouragement and incentive as we hit the New Year. And I feel like, as we get closer and closer to the holiday, that’s what everyone’s looking for in one way or another. A simple way to get and stay inspired.
Now I know there are tons of different ways we all approach New Year’s Eve. Some of us believe in going big or going home, so we strip ourselves down to the studs and completely rebuild. Others focus on that one annoying or frustrating quality about ourselves that we desperately want to change. And there are those who resign ourselves to just maintaining the status quo because we think we’re already perfect. And lastly, there’s the moral majority who thinks there’s just too much to be changed to be that version of ourselves that we want to be, so we blow everything off altogether.
And here’s where my quote comes into play.
It was written by George Eliot—ironically, a woman who wrote under a man’s pen name so the world would take her work seriously. It’s simple yet powerful and it’s completely open-ended, which means that it’s totally open for personal interpretation. And best of all, it doesn’t suggest that we turn into someone different overnight. But, instead, it just reminds us that’s it’s never too late to do the things we most want to do in our life.
It’s never too late to be who you might have been. That was his, uh, her quote. And it’s one of the ideas that motivated me years ago to be tenacious about doing the things I want to do most in life.
See, most of us put ourselves under ridiculous pressure to make big changes when the New Year comes. And for the average person, that’s not happening.
But if we do what this quote suggests and just focus on tapping our untapped potential at our own speed, then we automatically have a time buffer built in. So there’s no rush. And more importantly, no pressure.
Because transforming takes time. And just the very nature of the word transform implies a process that happens gradually. And that’s a concept I think most people can handle.
I love this as a New Year’s quote so much because it speaks to the whole today-is-the-first-day-of-the-rest-of-your-life idea. Which, to be honest with you, is what I think everyone’s personal mantra should be 365 days a year. Because since we can never go backwards, and we obviously can’t go any further beyond exactly where we are at any given minute; we have little choice but to be completely focused on where we are right this second. Which means that every day is a completely new day where we get to be anything we want to be.
Look, we’re all just living our story. (Another great quote.) And the beauty of that is that we all have at least a decent amount of control over the choices we make in our day-to-day lives. Like we get to decide if we work out every day. We get to decide if we eat like crap or eat clean. We get to choose whether or not we’re kind or thoughtful or decent human beings or whether we’re a-holes.
So as New Year’s approaches, just go into it thinking that It’s never too late to be who you might have been. And then just go and be that person. Because in the end, as long as we keep that idea in mind, we’ll always keep pushing ourselves, in our own way and at our own pace, to be the best versions of ourselves that we can be. (And it also allows for some falling off the wagon, so it’s a super-practical mantra.)
Lisa Sugarman lives just north of Boston, Massachusetts. Read and discuss all her columns at www.lisasugarman.com. She is also the author of LIFE: It Is What It Is and Untying Parent Anxiety: 18 Myths That Have You in Knots—And How to Get Free available on Amazon.com and at select bookstores.