“New Year, New You!”
I have come to loathe that phrase.
You would assume that someone like myself who spends their time on the human problem of dealing with career change would welcome this mantra since it seems to herald a new commitment to growth in the New Year. It’s a motivational rallying cry, isn’t it?
That’s the problem from my viewpoint. It only seems to work. New Year’s resolutions are great for some people but for most they’re non-starters. Motivation frequently loses out to the power of habitual patterns. Goals are set, but not always kept. Sometimes even the simple desire to change is even a source of personal pain because ‘nothing’ seems to happen. I find that gut-wrenching to watch, so half-hearted platitudes like this don’t cut it for me.
Instead, I believe we should embrace a better mantra that is focused on real growth:
“New Year, Same You”
I didn’t invent this slogan, so there are multiple interpretations of out there. For me, it breaks down into two parts.
“New Year” is accepting that change isn’t optional. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature. Change is life. Change, like sh*t, happens.
“Same You” is accepting yourself as you are. Before you scroll away let me first be clear. There is nothing ‘wrong’ with you but you should spend the effort to change the things in your life that don’t work for you. Every individual person is a big bundle of potential and possibility because of the unique human ability to make choices (even fighting for the right to choose is a choice). You can change and should change things in your life. Frequently. It’s often fun and healthy to boot.
To change, however, you have to accept what you’ve got and where you are. Start there and decide where to go. Setting goals without understanding what assets you have means you’re investing your time blindly. Once you accept yourself and look honestly at who you are, then you can decide to change.
Accepting yourself isn’t about correcting weakness, it’s about focusing on your talents and strengths. Those are the things about you that will make progress possible because change is hard work. Motivation only goes so far and habits are tough to re-write, so to sustain yourself on the journey you’ll need to know what you have to reliably sustain your progress. Strengths are both external and internal resources that can multiply your will to change. Be grateful for them and celebrate them, because they are treasures that can push you to whatever next level you chose.
Don Clifton, the founder of the Strengths-based approach to human problems had a saying that he short-handed to ‘LGOSTAMOWI’ – “Let’s Get Our Strengths Together And Make Our Weaknesses Irrelevant”. I believe Don would tell us all to not worry about making resolutions to change those things that we consider wrong with us (too fat, too thin, too old, too young, too little education, too few hobbies, etc). A New Year’s resolution, if you make them, should be focused on spending time developing those parts of you that enrich you. Your Family, your friends, your job, your hobbies, your attitudes, your talents, your skills – they can all be the focus of resolutions that are more enjoyable to achieve. Get your Strengths together and get going into the new year.
As we say here at Merrfeld: “Don’t invest your time fixated on what’s wrong with you. Fix What’s RIGHT with you”.
Happy New Year and may you tap into your strengths in 2020.
Photo by John Baker on Unsplash