Self Improvement: Beware of the Lure of the Calendar Year

“I just wanted to call to check in and say hello,” he said to me.

“It’s great to hear from you. How have you been? Where have you been?” I asked because I cared and was truly curious. It had been years since I heard from him.

“It’s time I’ve made amends. I’m calling to apologize. I’m going to change,” he told me with a combination of conviction, sadness, and guilt.

“I appreciate it, but there is really nothing to apologize for. I understand and I forgive you, though,” I told him. “What changes are you going to make.”

“No, Errol, I’m making the changes! I’m not going to make the changes, I’m making them! I’m starting by calling those I hurt to apologize,” he said with conviction.

“That’s awesome,” I responded. “Have you called…” I rattled off a few names that I was sure had to be on his list if he had thought to call me.

“No, not yet. I am going to call them after the new year. That is my resolution,” he said with a little less conviction.

It is October! “Why don’t you just call them now? Why wait?” I asked.

“Because it’s better to do those things in the new year. It’s better to start change then.”

Needless to say, those calls never got made and I have not heard from him since. That call was about 13 years ago. I guess the turn of the calendar to the new year did not have the impact he thought it would. After this incident I became hyper aware of how many people wait until the new year to decide to affect change in their lives. I am still amazed at how many people hold out hope for the magic of the new year.  

We are several weeks into 2021 now. It is a time of optimism for change. I think the positivity around New Year’s Resolutions is great. However, we are creeping up on the time when a lot of people realize they have bitten off more than they can chew.

They slowly miss a workout, eat the doughnut, have the drink, don’t call Mom and Dad for the third time in a week, don’t read a book, skip the daily meditation, don’t check off the forty items on their daily to-do list, and wake up fifteen minutes before they have to run out the door instead of the hour and a half earlier they committed to so they can prime their day.

If you fit into any of those categories my intent is not to bring you down. It is to lift you up. It is to remind you that the calendar has nothing to do with the self improvements you want to make. You are the one to make the change and you can make it any time you want.

I have some other good news for you as well! You can re-evaluate the commitments you made for your New Year’s Resolution and adjust if perhaps you overextended yourself a bit. That is right! If you had five, ten, twenty, or even more resolutions, you can say, “That was too many. I’m going to try these two or three instead.”

Trust me, if you commit to one or two behavioral changes you will see positive ripple effects in other areas of your life. You do not need to start with a massive list.

If you are on pace with your resolutions, keep up the great work! If you are struggling or falling off, give yourself a break, re-evaluate, and make an adjustment. Make an adjustment now if you need to. Make an adjustment in two months if you need to.

Make the adjustments whenever you need to because self improvement does not live by the calendar year and it is not a zero-sum game. You are allowed to make mistakes and adjust. You are allowed to make new change in the middle of the year! You are allowed to fail and start over! You decide when change happens, not the calendar!

Now go out there and try, screw it up, adjust, start over, adjust again, and make some change!

Errol Doebler is the founder of Ice Cold Leader, a leadership consulting firm. After successful careers as a Navy SEAL Platoon Commander and FBI Special Agent, Errol founded Ice Cold Leader to realize his passion of empowering great leaders and better human beings. Ice Cold Leader provides executive coachingkeynote speaking, and corporate retreats to individuals and teams across the world.

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