Do New Year’s resolutions work? Depends on who you ask.
“New year new me is B.S. You’re still going to be the same old you this year, no matter what you do” — A loser with limiting beliefs
Do most people fail to follow through with their New Years’ resolutions? Yes.
Is self-help, in general, a losing battle? Absolutely.
For the most part, do people stay the same, fail to ever change their behavior in a profoundly, and take their dreams to the grave with them? Of course.
But I’m not talking about them or to them in this post. I’m talking to you.
People who say things like “New year new you doesn’t work” are done for.
They’ve resigned their lives away a long time ago. To cope with this they project their beliefs onto other people. They’re going to be the same old them.
But you can become a brand new you. At any time, you can reinvent yourself, start a new career, begin that business, start that hobby, do that exciting thing, whatever.
And contrary to what many people say, New Years is a great time to get started. If you have the right mindset.
Ionce wrote an article contradicting this idea. In it, I said that New Years is the worst possible time to start trying to change your life. The reason? People come into the new year on a losing streak.
They spend multiple weeks eating bad food, drinking, loafing around, and doing nothing productive. They get hammered on December 31st and start the new year with a hangover.
When you spend the last weeks of the year confirming your identity as just-another-schmuck-trying-to-get-by in the form of doing all the same things just-another-schmuck-trying-to-get-by does, of course, you’re going to get the same results in your life.
In that article, I suggested starting a month early to interrupt your pattern.
The entire process of reinventing yourself is focused on undoing bad patterns and scripts that are running you. It’s not so much that you’re incapable of making changes, but you have badly programmed software that needs to be re-written.
This post was published on December 26th. If you happen to read it today, try doing something radical for me. Drop whatever it is you planned on doing to finish out the month and try to gain some momentum heading into the new year.
Instead of drinks, do coffee and journaling. Instead of sitting around at home while you’re off work, start thinking about and planning side projects. Sure, on the surface, act like everyone else and play the holiday to new year game, but begin to think differently in your mind.
If you do happen to be reading this after you’ve made all the mistakes I told you not to make.
Even if you did wake up on January 1st with a hangover, you can still make a change. Granted, it will be harder, but it’s doable.
Let’s talk about how to do just that.
Your problem isn’t that you need to become someone else. Your true problem? You’re afraid to be one hundred percent of yourself. People don’t fundamentally change at their core.
What looks like change simply means you’re becoming your true core self by removing the layers of brainwashing you’ve experienced from society. Look at the way people move in the world — shells of selves walking on eggshells.
In my book, I talk about unlearning the narratives of society to become your true self. A useful exercise from the book — write down the potential patterns and scripts that are running you and propose counter-narratives that disprove those scripts.
Now? I say take things a step further. Not only should you understand these scripts and work to counteract them, but you should also show total disdain for the scripts themselves. What do I mean?
I used to hedge quite a bit in my writing. I’d say things like “some people are truly happy doing corporate[…]” Blah blah blah. They’re not happy. You can see it in their eyes. They’re miserable. No more hedging. Let’s just call things what they are and be upfront about it.
No, you don’t have to become some millionaire digital nomad or whatever, but you don’t want to be a schmuck either. Admitting that schmucks exist. Admitting that right now, you might be a schmuck is the first step.
Am I being harsh?
I don’t know. Am I?
How else would you describe spending your entire life doing things you really don’t want to do?
I understand that it takes time to make a transition in life, but how else would you describe someone who never attempts to make that transition for a sustained period?
The rationalizations run deep.
I wrote an article recently where I talked about the fact that people do things like getting married because they just want to be done — they want to check out of life and stop trying hard. It also spoke to a broader point that people often aim for comfort, security, and finality through all their formative years, get it, then feel miserable.
Notice I didn’t say the institution of marriage was bad or that all married people are miserable. I never said that comfort and security were bad in and of themselves.
I noted that many people get married simply because they’re tired of the dating jungle and end up in boring sexless marriages. And I made the analogy that people stop “dating” life and get into “loveless relationships” with it.
The point was pretty clear — continue to grow in some capacity and don’t check out of life, that’s it.
Comments came out of the woodwork — people telling me, some random guy on the internet, about how great their marriage was. Nobody in a happy and exciting marriage would feel the need to justify themselves to me.
I also got comments that told me that, eventually, I’d grow out of my idealism and become a responsible adult a.k.a being a schmuck. Your age doesn’t make you a schmuck. Your lack of idealism, optimism, and energy makes you one.
If I trigger you, it means there’s some element of truth in what I’m saying. Even if you don’t admit it outright, you feel it.
The idea of being a schmuck is one of those things. It offends the sensibilities. It seems mean. Mean because, deep down, we all know it’s kind of true.
Let’s say you know it’s true and you want to do something about it. What do you do?
How will you make this year different? That’s the $64,000 question. There’s the typical self-help advice that works and you need to follow. Identify your talents and strengths, earnestly start on a new path, focus on it long enough to reach traction, settle in and work for years, five years later become successful.
But it all starts with this simple seed.
The past doesn’t have to equal the future. You only think it does because you’re unwilling to give up the identity you’ve created over time, for better or worse. If the identity you have doesn’t serve you, get rid of it.
Wipe the slate clean and rid yourself of your ego. See, for someone who doesn’t have the life they want, you’re quite presumptuous. You think you know a lot, but you don’t, because if you did, you wouldn’t be where you are right now.
People think trying to become successful is arrogant. It’s not. Becoming successful happens when you let go of your ego, admit you suck, and seek wisdom. The schmucks are the arrogant ones. They think life should just get better on its own, for no reason, without any extra work or changes in behavior.
Ironically, even after everything I’ve said in this post, I’m probably one of the most pro-human being human beings there is. I believe in the latent power people have. I don’t think people are inherently unmotivated at all — look at any five year old. Slowly but surely though, we’re taught all these rules, learn all these patterns, and life starts to disappoint us enough to the point where we stop trying.
To cope with it all, we construct this narrative in our mind that this is somehow what we want. That, somehow, a grand adventure full of wonder, wisdom, and amazing experiences is something we don’t want. Come on, people. Can we stop lying to ourselves?
Can you stop lying to yourself? Just admit it. You want to be better. You want to be the hero. It’s okay to want these things. Let everyone else run the machine. The machine doesn’t need you and it won’t even notice you’re gone.
For 2020, try, for once in your life, to suspend your judgment and fully submit yourself to self-improvement in a humble way, like the student carrying buckets of water in a kung-fu movie.
Do the work, without questioning the process, for an entire year and see what happens. You’ll get addicted to it and you’ll never go back to being normal again.