The New Year brings on an avalanche of resolutions, weight loss plans and a war cry to improve at the things we suck at. Maybe it’s drinking more water, working out more or being all round more ‘successful’ or wealthy. Save money, we bleakly tweet after ordering a Dominos to starve off the New Year hangover.
We examine what it is we’ve failed to do the last 12 months and convince ourselves that this year we’ll do it. We’ll stop sucking at so much stuff. But here’s the thing, dear reader, I’ve got to tell you.
Build on what you already have. Stop wanting X, Y or Z and focus on what you can do. Stop pushing yourself down and thinking about all the things you aren’t good at. Nobody is good at everything, so why the hell should you be the special one who has the potential to be great at everything? People are competent in most things; sometimes there’s one or two things they’re really good at. Like, good enough to invest in. So that’s why this New Year I’m asking you to think about continuing to build yourself up, to improve on the things you can do, to sharpen your tools at your disposal until they’re watertight. Learn new things, yes, but not to focus on stuff you’re unlikely to actually take the time to do because really, you aren’t as interested as you think you are. You’re probably doing it because your friends are doing it or your favourite social media star, not because there’s a burning passion to become good at it. There isn’t a drive there, but there is a drive for something else.
Don’t let that drive die out. We have to stop fixating on the stuff we suck and everything that comes with the New Year propaganda. Of course it’s amazing that the New Year was on a Monday, but we can begin changes at any time. We can put change in place when we desire – not when we have to flip a calendar to the beginning.
We might crave to be like Beyonce, but the truth is we are never going to be Beyonce. I’m sorry if this is coming to you as a shock, but I felt that you should know. You, and I, are never going to be like Beyonce. And we aren’t going to be able to fix everything or create an album like Lemonade. But what can we do?
We can figure out what puts us on fire. We can recognise that we’re entering the best five years of our lives once we graduate, because it’s the years when we can do whatever we want. We start on our own, no guided steps towards the ‘Next’. Schools over, the kids are out. We have to decide what we do want to do with it. These aren’t the years to be practical and safe, or do what your mum keeps telling you do. Don’t do what your parents want or expect you to do, unless you want to. These next five years are going to be hard and scary, but it’s the time we attack what we love. What we’re good at. And we start to build a life we can be proud of.
To do this, we have to look at our behaviour. Really look at ourselves – don’t tear yourself down, just look. Look at where you stop yourself. How often you run away from risk. How much you say the word no. Risk is scary. Of course it is, but that doesn’t mean the fear of risk is supposed to repel you. It’s to reel you in. It’s to make you pull up the courage to run with the fear until you push past it. Because, you need to start taking chances. You need to start having confidence in yourself, take time to really believe in yourself. This year, build up on that. Stop staying at home so much. Stop thinking ‘this doesn’t happen to me’. Like, answer me right now – why not you? Why not? What makes you so different and unique in a world of over 7.5 billion people, success or achievement can’t happen to you?
Stop pausing while you speak and stop saying ‘um’ so much. Mean what you say. Believe in what you’re saying, or don’t say it. People can tell when you’re fronting or when you oversell yourself. Have the confidence that means you don’t have to front and that means knowing your stuff – so research. Don’t half ass things.
Build on yourself. Invest in yourself. Work on your confidence, your skills and keep doing the thing that sets your lungs on fire.
By Lou Ramsay