Bookended with the ceremonious dropping of a bedazzled ball in the center of New York's Time Square, each year comes and goes with excitement, optimism, and visceral celebrations. The start of the next 8,760 hours of your life comes immediately after the abrupt and eager closing of the previously experienced batch.
What's gone is gone. What was, was.
All that remains is what is to come.
For nearly every person on this Earth, New Years Eve (and day) is the most aware they'll be of time's passing until the planet completes it's 365 day revolution around the sun again. Most people awake on December 31st with a tone of remembrance and reflection. With selective memories and a decent dose of emotional guarding (thanks to our ego) - most have closed the book on their previous year well before they pour their first drink or don a pair of holiday sunglasses.
And then, many awake on January 1st with optimism, a sense of rebirth, and possibly a hangover. They pick their head from their pillow, observe the weather that brings in the new year, and begin their next 8760 hours (less the time they've partied and slept). Resolutions and promises to oneself often begin and end in the first few hundred hours, unfortunately.
As many studies and published articles have explored, most people see the new year as an opportunity to start anew, to set resolutions of change, and to do the many things they haven't done in the past. And, as other studies have shown, people's inability to act on their resolutions and initiate meaningful change occurs as a result of not being willing to work on themselves, face their own weaknesses and insecurities, or change their behaviors to prevent recreating the past.
In fact, one could even surmise that the greatest weakness in the "resolution" approach is its ignorance of the fact that that 8760 hours is incredibly short in the grand picture that is one's life. Similarly, our collective tacit negligence regarding just how much time 8,760 hours provides when held to the length of a candle's glow in the darkness.
See, most people's awareness of the "YEAR" exists only on at it's end points. Once they begin turning the 365 pages within - they lose grasp of an hour's brevity and a month's resilience. There is little concept of time's elapse in their daily life.
But what is undeniably true, is that we are all given the same 24 hours of each day until our time expires. Yet, even with a shared universal truth - people's perceptions and relationship with time can vary.
Ultimately, there are 4** notable ways that people engage with the sands of time:
Anxiety and Immediacy
Procrastination is the antagonist of anxiety and immediacy. The idea of doing it tomorrow rids of any of today's pressure and discomfort.
Anxiety and immediacy are often the enemy of better results. Doing it now and getting it done rids of any of today's pressure and discomfort.
Perfectionism is the direct opposition to progress. Waiting until everything is "just right" often becomes a wait everlasting.
And inaction altogether, often paired with ineptitude, is the enemy of a satisfying life. Trapped in the raft, hoping to be saved, and deferring responsibility until someone else does it for them robs the soul of any sense of meaning or pride.
** Of course, someone will argue that there is a way to achieve "just right" as though we are judging the temperature of the porridge in our childhood nursery rhymes. There will be moments of optimal throughout one's life, but it is a mostly unsustainable state of being, thus eliminating it from being one of the options on the list.**
It is these 4 conceptualizations of time that guide us all. In a single life, we are all likely to experience each state of being. If the kick in the dick is strong enough, even the most motivated and anxious person can become the victim waiting to be saved. And if the fire under their ass gets hot enough, and the penalty of failure large enough, then even the worst procrastinator or inactive soul can find the power of motion and begin building positive inertia.
And there in lies the truth, and the entire purpose of this article...
Each year grants you 8760 hours to live your life. Your awareness of this time should be greatest within the pages of the book, and not simply when observing it's covers. Instead of being most aware of what your year "was" or "could be" as you swirl your glass of champagne and calculate if you have time to use the bathroom before the countdown starts...
Be aware of it every single time you wake. Be contemplate and reflective of it as your head finds your pillow at night. Be conscious of your investment of time and energy throughout the flow of the day.
You can't predict what the next year will bring. You can only use the past as a history book, the future as a dream journal, and the here and now for ACTION. With every new morning another chunk of your 8760 has elapsed. As the sun rises and illuminates the sky in beautiful shades of yellow, orange, and blue - time elapsed disappears into a lightless void, never to be seen again.
Only within your memories, and the memories of those you share your journey with, does that time gain new life. Technology has made it easier to keep the past in the light too.
And so the lesson that must be grasped is painful and necessary. It is liberating if you let it be...
Your time is happening. Right now, as you breathe and read these words...time is elapsing. Tick, tick, tick. Gone.
You can't even imagine what is coming your way. The good, the bad, the mundane all lie in wait for you to cross their position along your path. The greatest moments in your life are tucked into the unknown future just as neatly as the worst pain of your existence. Between these visceral emotions and memories will be lots of mundane. Brushing your teeth, paying your bills, and waiting for traffic to break free.
All you can do is walk the path.
More importantly, you can walk the path with intention. You can wake every morning with the intent to live by a set of values and beliefs that keep you on a more fulfilling and excellent path. Every morning is an opportunity to put one foot in front of another and never stop moving.
As Dorie in "Finding Dorie" sang with flare, "just keep swimming".
The critical piece of intention is that it allows you to pick yourself back up when the unexpected shit hits the proverbial fan. When death or heartbreak occur, when the job is lost or the bills are unexpected...
Your intention and your mission to make the most of the 8760 hours in between the controlled descent of a glitzy, bedazzled ball is what keeps the boat above the water when the waves grow larger than the bow. It is your plan of ACTION that lives between those two loud, energetic, and raucous 10 counts that defines you. It is your willingness to face your fears, overcome your urges, and keep yourself engaged in the people, places, and purposes of your life that will ultimately make you proud.
Or dare we say happy...
We all know that terrible shit will happen in our lives. We also know that we won't always get a fair draw. We know that we will lose loved ones, we will have our heartbroken, and we'll have bills that we can't pay.
Similarly so, we innately believe that good things will occur too. The love our life is around the next corner, our children will be so beautiful and strong, and our careers will grant us financial freedoms beyond our parent's generation.
What is true though, is that our lives will be somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. The good can't take us so high that we fall uncontrollably at the first glimpse of the bad. The bad can't bury us so deep that we miss the first rays of sunshine that illuminate the good. Everything is ultimately a lesson.
The good is a lesson of how amazing life can be.
The bad is a lesson about changing our ways, habits, or beliefs.
The mundane is a lesson about doing small things well repeatedly.
The exciting is a lesson about being present in the moment you are in.
Your time is here.
Your time is now.
Learn from every minute that has elapsed. Get excited for the ones that lie ahead. Don't fear the heartbreak, let it change you into a better lover. Don't fear the victories that lie on the other side of the mundane work - the work will harden you for the better. Don't quit when the world shows you the exit...
Instead, live by the following 5 rules:
Plan tomorrow before it comes
Remember today before it is gone
History is always a teacher. It's repetitive because people ignore its lessons.
You can change yourself 1% every single day
People ultimately matter most. SERVE the WORLD.
You can be more. I know you can. I know you can because I've become more. In the darkness of the last year of my life has come a light and a purpose that rises above all other callings I've discovered previously.
I'm living proof of the 8760 hours. My last year has been the greatest teacher of my life. I've wasted so much time and survived so much. I've lost my mind and found it again. I've worked thousands of hours and prioritized the needs of others above the needs of myself, and I've made mistakes that I never thought I'd need to lay claim to.
In just a single year of time, I've experienced more than my life's share of heartbreak, hardship, and joy. I've felt the pulsing rush of a first kiss, the despair and betrayal of a divorce, and the pride that comes from not quitting even when the whiskey and my endless stream of tears made me want to. I've tasted failure and I've had moments of success.
I've trained over a thousand hours of sessions, taught dozens of PPSC certifications, moved multiple times, and lost every single dollar I have. I've had too much whiskey, cried too many tears, and broken promises I've made to myself and others.
I've built the careers of hundreds of trainers, helped dozens of clients, and completely ignored myself.
I've read so many books, watched so many movies, and participated in countless hours of therapy and coaching. I thought about others. I've had sleepless nights that turned into sleepless weeks. I've been at my absolute best when I served others without any desires for personal gain. I've been at my absolute worst when I let my desire for safety, or dopamine, rule me.
But I've survived the twists and turns of the last 8760. Now it's time to thrive for the next.
This is where I get off, as Churchill did in Westminster after motivating the citizens of his Nation whilst riding the underground, to go with purpose and live my best 8760. The last year broke me, rebuilt me, and showed me why I'm alive. And so I say to you...
What can this year teach you?