Why Your New Year may be Disappointing (and How to Fix It)

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New years fireworks by sparkfly photography

We want it all right now. At least I do! Though I may consider myself patient in the short term, I have difficulty holding out, being patient, and waiting over the long term.

As one year comes to a close, a new year brings us the hope of change. The blank slate of the year stretches out before us asking: what will this year hold? What will you change? What will you make of it?

New Year Resolutions are the perfect opportunity to dabble with all of this. We channel the discontented areas of life into some sort of commitment, hoping to bring lasting change and a new way of being.

Sometimes New Years resolutions are successful. Often times they are not. (My most successful and memorable New Year Resolution was to stop drinking soda for a year). Either way, they rarely bring about the kind of change that we really want to see. We want bigger things. We want radical shifts. We want life be compelling.

We could chalk this up to our commitments not being radical enough. Or we could take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

The bigger picture is this: we want it all right now, but we can’t have it. We want the next year to take us from where we are in life to a place where we are making a deeper impact and where everything is in perfect alignment. As good as that desire is (I always want to cheer for your desires!), a year is simply not long enough. One year usually won’t deliver that much in that way.

It’s said that “Patience is a virtue.” It’s not only a virtue, it’s also the key to moving deeper into work that really matters. You need a vast amount of patience. You need patience to stay the course when it feels like nothing is working. You need patience not to abandon ship and try something more lucrative and immediate.

Patience. Endurance. Long-suffering. Perseverance. Stick-with-it-ness. Never giving up. These are the words that will help you move to a deeper expression of your work in the world.

They are not sexy or glamorous words by any stretch of the imagination. They are gritty, dirty, and full of sweat.

Patience and perseverance are human words, and we need words for our experience.

The New Year is a blank slate.

It’s a chance to start again and to set an intention for the next year of your life. The task for you here is to think beyond right now and what you can achieve in one year, and look instead to the larger vision of a life of meaning. How does it feel to think of this year in terms of five, ten, or fifteen year marks? What is the work that you want to be a part of at those points? Then, how can you slowly, gently, sustainably, and humanly move toward it — one day, month, and year, at a time?

If you don’t know what that work is yet, this year is a good year to make space for figuring that out. Do less. Write more. Tell your story and ask people to listen. Play. Conduct experiments. There are all kinds of things to try. Your work matters enough to give a year (and many more) to locating it.

In the comments, what does a new year feel like to you? What are the commitments that you’re considering? Share your thoughts by clicking here.

Dan Cumberland is on a mission to push you into the places meaning, life, & work intersect. He is the author of The Meaning Manifesto. Read more about him here, and connect with him on facebook and twitter.

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