A New Year is a Time for Renewal

January 2, 2002

With a new year comes the chance for renewal. We all have this chance everyday, because we are alive today -- reading words, thinking tho ughts, feeling emotions. We take this chance, this opportunity for granted because we always believe there will be another day, another c hance to change tomorrow or the day after.

The sad reality is that we are fooling ourselves.

Life is Stranger than Fiction

A decade ago (was it so long ago?), my very best childhood friend took his own life because he was emotionally distraught over a relation ship. He certainly was not the only person in this world who has felt heartbroken over love lost. But he did make a choice to forgo exper iencing the pain any longer, and to be relieved of it. He is one of the reasons I have spent so much time and energy (and continue to do so) on the Internet, writing and educating about mental health.

The mistake we all make in our lives is believing we have a tomorrow in which to make those changes. Auto accidents claim hundreds of tho usands of silent deaths every year throughout the world. Medical accidents from the human mistakes inevitably made claim nearly 100,000 l ives every year in America. In a blink of an eye, our lives may end at any time, day or night, without warning and without remorse. We wo n't even have the chance to think, much less regret.

We don't have the time we think we do. Our life on this planet is a brief, burning flame measured in years, while the planet's own life i s measured in centuries. We falsely believe we will have time to make amends, to set our lives straight, to start changing the behavior w e've been meaning to get around to but never do. We do not.

Making the Change

Once you realize and accept that life is short, much shorter than you ever could have imagined when you were 15 or 21 or even 31, you hav e opened up possibilities and challenges like no others you will face in your life. Those challenges mean owning your issues and taking r esponsibility -- 100% responsibility -- for making the changes necessary in your life to feel differently. Nobody is going to make your l ife better or make you feel better. Only you can do that, and only if you are determined to do it. Not just right now, but ever y single day, resolving to work on the things you want to change.

It's not easy and that's why most people don't do it. It is easier to be lazy, to remain the same, to deal with the repercussions later. Because later is so far away, and after all, I'll always have time to work on that later, right?

For some of us, later will come much sooner than we know. Don't let yourself leave this world without at least trying, without at least m aking the concerted effort to change. It's a new year, give yourself the permission to renew and refocus on those things that are most im portant in your life.

 - John

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 22 Jul 2016
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