As we head into November, it feels like the holiday season is upon us once again. The leaves change, creating a new world covered in blankets of brilliant reds, and confetti of orange and yellow floats through the air. Pumpkins, big and small, color porches and plop themselves lazily in front of windows. Finally we can watch Hocus Pocus un-ironically.

Before you know it, Thanksgiving comes and goes with a flourish of turkey legs, stomach aches, and extended familial tension. Snow quietly creeps in, forcing us to slow down while playing Nat King Cole and Dean Martin Christmas songs. It’s easy to forget what is looming when we’re in a holiday haze, drugged up on cinnamon, pie, and general coziness.

Then, all of a sudden, it’s New Years Eve, the big 3 1 and you feel motivated and unprepared all at the same time. It’s in that last week of December when you’ll hear a chorus of voices complaining how awful the last year was. Various television and news stations do a yearly round-up in which they show way too much of The Donald saying “huuuuuge,” bombs being dropped who know’s where, and threats from Kim Jong-Un and Vladimir Putin. But, we feel a certain sense of hope, determined that this will be the best year yet. Of course, we were also sure of this last year, and the year before that.

We all feel so confident and self-assured with the promise of a fresh start as if the changing number on the calendar will erase the past and bring us overnight luck and success.

The promise of a fresh start is a beguiling mistress, promising to take away all our struggles and unhappiness. She will make us feel good, show us what truly living is. She’s so much better than our cold, naggy past annoying us with reality and problems. However, there are quite a few problems associated with the myth of a life changing New Years.

First, that’s a lot of pressure to put on one day out of 365. If you don’t have New Years Eve plans you feel like you’re missing out on this spectacular event that the entire world is celebrating, except for a loser like you of course. People in New York City are watching the ball drop and picking confetti out of their hair, but not you, because you went to bed before midnight.

What about the idea that you have to wait to start working on your goals until January 1? Or, that you have to put off being happy because you’ve had a shitty year and there is still 3 months left of it? This idea hands over control of our lives to the date on a calendar.

Let’s say you’ve had a terrible year so far. You got fired, the IRS audited you, your dog ran away, your boyfriend/girlfriend dumped you, you had to work in customer service, someone dented your car, and you cover your eyes every time you look at your bank account. Those things will not magically disappear just because the fireworks go off and the champagne corks pop.

Your problems, your sad memories, your failures, will all follow you into the new year. But, the silver lining is that good things will follow you too. Your successful blog, your close circle of friends, that bakery you found with mouth watering croissants, the happy memories, that cashmere sweater you happened to find on sale. If you want to discard the past, then you’ll have to leave the entire plate, not just the brussels sprouts that you hate.

If you want a fresh start, you don’t have to wait. You can go into this new year ahead of the game. If you’re not happy right now, you are not required to stay here for the next 3 months and if you do, well, you might just be too scared to make a change.

This time of year is also the epitome of a chance for procrastination. But, be honest with yourself. Are you really so busy handing out Halloween candy, basting turkey, and wrapping presents that you can’t take 5 minutes to evaluate your life and move forward on a plan, or maybe even attempt to create a plan in the first place?

The idea of a whole new year looming ahead can be terrifying and daunting. But, if the concept of the calendar didn’t exist, ask yourself what you would be doing then. The date does not control your life, you do.

pbr