New Year, New Start?January 9, 2018
I don’t tend to particularly celebrate New Year as a rule; I usually just use the opportunity to spend time with family and close friends. I guess the reason for this is because I don’t wholly agree with the notion of “New Year, New Start”; that somehow the New Year marks a short annual moment in time in which the decisions we take and resolutions we make define how our next 365 days are going to pan out. To me this is because I believe the danger with this sentiment is that it can sometimes take the control over our own destinies out of our hands and put it into the hands of conditions beyond our control.
I do like many however, find that the New Year is a timely opportunity to stop and think about my life, work and aspirations for the foreseeable future. After the hustle and bustle of a wonderfully busy quality time spent with the people I love the most in the world, I find the New Year gives me a quiet head space to think about me and what I need and want from the weeks and months ahead.
We all have those moments in time, like many describe at New Year, where we feel we have choices to make about the path we want to take next. Quite often at the time of having to make such a decision, we are unsure what these choices will mean for our life subsequently. This may seem like a hard or even impossible choice to make, or we may even feel at times like this that we have no choice at all, especially when we are not sure whether we will be better or worse off depending on the choice we make.
To me there are two very important mantras I stick by when making decisions, which simplifies what can seem a very tricky and complicated process.
The first is about truth. Steve our Chief Executive at The Beech Centre frequently invites myself and my colleagues to only work with “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth”. Telling the truth doesn’t always mean that life is easy, but once we have total clarity on the honesty of every situation, then and only then do we have all the data we need to make a considered decision.
The other is about values. When thinking about values, I am always reminded of that famous Dr Stephen Covey quote: “My behaviour is a product of my own conscious choices based on principles, rather than a product of my conditions, based on feelings.” If we make choices about our life and our future based upon changeable conditions, such as how much money or time we have, the situation we are in, the people we are with or our emotional state, we will never truly be satisfied because the solution we have chosen in this particular moment will only serve us in the short term, until these variables alter. Making values-based decisions may not always be the easiest option in the moment but will serve us well in the longer term because they are based on a strong and unchanging foundation of what is fundamentally important to us.
It is true that we can ultimately never foresee what the consequences of any choice we make are going to be. We can make educated guesses and influence the results of our actions as far as possible but ultimately until these consequences play out and come to fruition we can’t be sure what is going to happen.
What one can be sure of though I think, is that choosing to make decisions based upon the truth of all the facts (whether one likes all of the facts or not) and in congruence with their values means that one can be at peace with whatever the consequences of these decisions may be because they know they made the right choice and would have made the same decision again, regardless of the outcome.
I guess the key word here is choice; each time we make a decision, we have a choice as to what the decision is that we are going to take. This choice may not always be easy but there is always a choice.
I believe we can make the choice to make values-based decisions at any time. We don’t have to wait for perfect conditions to be present- when we have more money or time, or for a new day or week or month or year to come around. We can choose to be different at any time. We can choose to be different now. So the New Year can definitely be a timely New Start if we choose for it to be, but equally so can any other day of the year.
What criteria do you use to make decisions? Is it important to you to make choices based on values or conditions and how do the two vary in your opinion? Do you believe in the idea of New Year, New Start? Let me know what you think in the comments below or via email on email@example.com.
Happy New Year!
The Beech Centre for People, Performance and Organisational Development