The beginning of a new calendar year triggers a response in us to make a change. It’s like a signal that tells us that we get another chance. A new year inspires us to set goals and invest in our dreams. It is an opportunity to try new things and create a new version of our lives. It is a tradition in our society to make New Year’s resolutions. It is also a tradition to break New Year’s resolutions. Why do we disappoint ourselves? Why do we fail to do the things we tell ourselves that we want to do?
Some of us make the same resolution year after year. I know a woman who had a yearly tradition of telling herself that she would quit smoking cigarettes at the stroke of midnight. She would diligently prepare for this event by smoking as much as possible up until that time. She wanted to make sure that she didn’t miss out on any cigarettes before the deadline to quit. I don’t think she ever made it more than a week. The really sad part is that she created her own tradition about the holidays and the new year. And then she passed that tradition on to her children. I’ve lost touch with her but I heard that she was now suffering from emphysema and in need of an oxygen tank. Obviously, she was a success at failure.
How many of us have declared, “I am going to lose 10 pounds…20 pounds…50 pounds!”? And how many of us have failed at reaching that goal? Or how many of us have succeeded in achieving the goal only to fail at maintaining it? There are many who say, “This year, I am going to get a new job…ask for a raise…start my own business.” And then they don’t. George Bernard Shaw said: “People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them.”
Philosophers, prophets, wise men and teachers throughout time have disagreed on many things but there is one point that they agree upon – the secret to your success and the secret to your failure is this: You create your experience of life with your thoughts. Marcus Aurelius, the great Roman Emperor, said: “A man’s life is what his thoughts make of it.”
Earl Nightingale tells us, “We become what we think about. A person who is thinking about a concrete and worthwhile goal is going to reach it, because that’s what he’s thinking about. Conversely, the person who has no goal, who doesn’t know where he’s going, and whose thoughts must therefore be thoughts of confusion, anxiety, fear, and worry will thereby create a life of frustration, fear, anxiety and worry. And if he thinks about nothing … he becomes nothing.”
I invite you to begin a new tradition at the stroke of midnight on 1/1/2016. Decide to pay the price. Do the work. Become the person you want to become. Or continue to live unsuccessfully. When you make the decision to work toward a goal, you are already a success. You have made a choice about where you want to be. Out of a hundred people, you belong in the top five!
Don’t be afraid to fail. Malcolm Forbes says, “Failure is success if we learn from it.” Keep your goal in mind at all times. Make your choices based on the successful fulfillment of your goal. Trust that you will know what to do and when to do it. Thomas Edison failed more than 10,000 times before the successful invention of the light bulb. He tells us, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
Maybe you have failed in the past. Remind yourself that it was in the past. Tell yourself that this time will be different. Remember that what you tell yourself ultimately determines what you are and are not able to do. So tell yourself that you can and you will and you will find that it is so.