The Spell of New Year’s

9 01 2011

From the great Calvin & Hobbes!


I used to make New Year’s Resolutions.  My favourite is usually the resolve to take more photographs.  I remember I tried to make myself take at least one photo every day, but eventually it got too difficult to remember, and I couldn’t always bring my camera everywhere I went (this is before I had an iPhone…).  In any case, in recent years, I’ve stopped trying to make resolutions, because I think for me, they are kind of gimmicky self-promises of wishes coming true based solely on the belief that New Year’s is like some magic wand that drives change just because it’s the first day of the year.

Life doesn’t work that way.

I think my resolutions have not worked in the past because they were just end goals that I wanted, but I didn’t really enjoy the process.  I wanted to have more photos, but I didn’t really want to interrupt every moment in my life by bringing out the camera.  I wanted to eat healthier, but without trying to find foods that were both delicious and nutritious to me, I could only take boiled vegetables for so many days in a row…

My point is that resolutions often fail (at least for me), because they are spur-of-the-moment changes that one may truly want to make, but without wanting to put in the effort or without knowing how to effectively put in the effort.

So I stopped having resolutions.

But then, this year, somehow I’ve made a few big decisions after New Year’s, and I’ve been sticking to them.

So what is going on?  Where does the drive to change our lives after the holidays come from?

For some, undoubtedly, the New Year does offer a symbolic kickstart to a lot of dreams, goals, and ambitions that have been lurking in the back of our minds.  As we realize that we are another year older, and we are reminded every day that we can no longer write or type 2010 or /10 at the top of our page, we realize that we are another year into our lives, and as Neil Pasricha, the blogger of 1000 Awesome Things, says, we only have 100 of them to live, so it’s possible that the New Year may drive us to question ourselves on why we haven’t pursued those passions we have set aside.  And so there is renewed energy and hope for change.

For me, though, I think the reasoning is a little different.  My changes following the start of the New Year seem to have arisen from a clarity of my values, goals, and desires.  Having spent two and a half weeks with amazing people in Vancouver, I had the liberty of time and a relaxed mind to think about what truly makes me happy, and what I am willing and unwilling to sacrifice.

Being away from my normal grind in Montreal meant that I could remove myself, physically and mentally, and critically examine where my life is going and whether or not it is really where I want it to go.  Having deep conversations with my peers about our futures made me really question my own.

The clarity that resulted from all of this is the reason why I have been making changes in my life without writing them down or even really thinking about them.  They’re changes in perspective that only the holidays, along with time with people I love, could have afforded me.

There’s something magical about the combination of being away from our daily routine and being with our loved ones that provides this clarity, and it is this clarity and perspective, in my opinion, that form the true spell of New Year’s, because with the debatable exception of summer, no other holiday mandates, on such an international scale, both such a lengthy vacation as well as time with those who love you.

This wicked spell has certainly done a number on me, but more on its effects on my personal life later…

For now, let me just say: January is the month of change, indeed…

Bonne Année!




2 responses

9 01 2011

June, I meant to tell you about this over the Christmas break…but unfortunately, you were already back in Montreal before Karoke happened 😦 But I was reading your “How to Sell Science” post a few weeks ago and it made me think of my friend Dave’s blog The Black Hole: Science in Canada, Issues Affecting Trainees ( You should give it a read! I left him a quick note about you suggesting that he contact you to do a guest blog post that would provide quite a different perspective than the ones he and his writing partner Beth typically have on their blog. But his blog is quite a good read – you should take a look if you have some (procrastinating) time! Sorry I missed you this Christmas, but I hope things are going well at McGill!! I still stalk your blog every couple of weeks to keep up on your life, even if I don’t post anything ;b

12 02 2011
I Am Changing « The Pro-Psychotics

[…] As I wrote a few blog posts ago, January was a month of change and clarity for me. […]

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