January always offers us the chance of a new start, of new possibilities and of renewed hope.
The new year can be a time of reimagining ourselves. We flock back to the gym, dig out our old instruments, and start journaling again. New Year, New Me is an intoxicating mantra. We all have things in ourselves and in our lives we wish could be different, better. The harsh reality is that these improvements are often short-lived. By the end of February, the gym is back to normal capacity, guitars have been put back in their cases and journals entries are few and far between.
As we all know, a month of running every day in January doesn’t sustain us the whole year. The trick is to still be exercising regularly in June, and December. Trying to do too much in January can lead to a following 11 months of disillusion. But here lies the trick… treating every day like it’s January. Every day we get a fresh start and, if we take it one day at a time, we can really start changing the trajectory of our lives.
Jesus warned us not to spend time anxious about tomorrow. Today has enough problems for us. Taking each day as it comes and making the most of each day is the unglamorous secret ‘life-hack’ for success. Nothing great gets finished in a day, it is completed by stringing a long line of ‘successful’ days together. Every day is Jan 1. Every day is a chance to do something good, to be better. Jordan Peterson asks the question, what small thing could I do today to make my life slightly better? It’s a simple step and it makes a difference. James Clear actually sat down and did the maths on this. 1% better each day equals almost 37 times better after one year. If I ask you to improve by a third, that’s a huge ask. But 1%, that’s more palatable. Years are made up of months, and months are made up of days. As the cliche goes, ‘look after the pennies and the pounds take care of themselves.’ Or, as Benjamin Franklin says, ‘Little strokes fell great oaks.’ Good days, make good years.
We are supposed to take each day at a time. We are supposed to do our best in each day to look after ourselves and others, to cultivate gratitude and meaningful pursuits. We are supposed, this day and every other, to take care of the business of today, and not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will bring enough trouble with it. And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to your span of life? Do not be anxious about tomorrow for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. These are not worn-out cliches. Properly and intentionally implemented, they are a path to freedom.
Don’t spend this year wishing you were somewhere else, someone else, or not at all. Embrace all that life is. The good the bad and the ugly. Take each day as it comes. Make each day a good day. Be excellent to yourself and to those around you. Every day is new. Fresh. It is to be treasured. Full of possibilities, of opportunity. A chance to be different, to be better, but most of all a chance to be grateful.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
Happy New Year!