This New Year, start again
There is no better cliché than to use the New Year as an excuse to inspire change. I prefer the symbolism of the winter solstice, myself. The transition from short, soul-sucking dark days to slightly longer, moderately less soul-sucking dark days screams fresh start to this Canadian. But I digress.
If we run with the timeworn tradition of restarting on January 1, it pays to reflect on the change we want to make. A new year opens up a slew of possibilities for our metamorphosis. We can go with the standard weight loss, career advancement, fitness, and general self-improvement options, or we can choose something much more valuable. If we resolve to do anything this year, I vote to change our attitude to time.
If life can teach us anything, it’s that time is finite.
Social media distracts, technology keeps us focused on the urgent instead of the important, and clever marketing ensures we stay unhappily on the hedonic treadmill. We buy instead of experience. We stay in jobs that are mind-numbing. We make excuses for why we can’t do the things we want to do. Fear keeps us from change. We stay comfortably in our status quo bubble rarely venturing out to try something new. Before we know it, we’ve blinked and half our life has gone by.
How are we to make sure we don’t blow the rest of the time we’ve been given? Live to minimize regret.
In the book Algorithms for Live By, the authors Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths share how über nerds use computer science to help us minimize regret. Their take-home message: new is better than known. When we optimistically explore new options versus sticking with the status quo it always pays off; it has to. The known is just that: known. The alternative always comes with the chance of being better. At the very least, when we explore the unknown we increase our chances of finding something better for ourselves and, in turn, check something off our ‘what if’ list. Novelty, then, is the best prevention of regret.
No dress rehearsal, this is our life.
As The Tragically Hip sang so poetically, there are no second chances. We only get one life. Let’s stop wasting our precious time on our cellphones and act as though we have a finite amount of time on this planet because we do.
This New Year, find the courage to start again by trying something new, you won’t regret it.
“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. And if you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.”
– Eric Roth, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (inspired by F. Scott Fitzgerald)