Well, it’s that time again. Time to put another year to rest and look forward to the coming twelve months with hope and ambition. I know a lot of people for whom 2019 was a bad year and they’re anxious to deep-six it and move on. For me, 2019 was about the same as 2018 and the year before that…an equal mix of good and bad. I had plenty of challenges to face; I had enemies emerge who made up outrageous lies about me and tried to hurt me. (Spoiler alert: They failed in spectacular fashion, lol.) I had any number of high points as well. I turned 50 this year; the first male Merz to do so in generations. I’m pretty happy about that.
Inevitably, my social media feed is clogged with bold proclamations about the coming year and how folks are going to change in one way or another to accomplish this goal or that goal. And I always root for them – I want the people I know and care for to always be happy. It’s an unrealistic hope; life is never always up or always down, but being an optimist, I still want the best for the people I love.
However, if I could make one suggestion to everyone who is planning to make big moves in 2020, it would be this: before you start enacting that bold plan, before you start tomorrow by taking a huge bite out of the next dream; before you dive in because it’s “the thing to do,” do one thing first:
Get comfortable being different.
Because right now, as you plan your 2020, you’re doing what 90% of the rest of humanity is doing. All of you are making plans, setting goals, making resolutions. You’re part of the “we’re all in this together” mindset. And it’s a fun place to be, frankly. You’re surrounded (either literally or virtually) by swarms of people who want to change, do more, be more, etc. It’s almost like a community. The excitement is ramping up as the clock moves toward 2020. “We’re gonna do this!”
But here’s the simple truth: 95% of that 90% will not realize their dreams and goals for 2020.
Don’t get me wrong, for the first few days of the new year, you’ll have plenty of company on your quest for a better 2020. Your social media feed will be filled with posts about how things have changed. But as the month wears on, those posts will become less frequent. For one reason or another, the other members of your “new year community” will falter, they’ll fall by the wayside, and they’ll stop. Some of those reasons might be entirely in their control. Perhaps they simply don’t have the willpower necessary, or the endurance, to see their goals to fruition. Still others will stop because of circumstances outside of their control. Through no fault of theirs, things will happen and upset the schedule they had planned to follow. It happens. All of this happens.
But when it does, if you are one of the few who keeps going, you will now be different from everyone else who stopped.
And instead of being part of that “community,” you are now in the company of very few.
Perhaps you’re even alone.
Humans are naturally drawn to a hive mindset; we like being surrounded by people like us, who reinforce what we say, what we think, what we do. It’s comfortable; it’s easy. We know the territory; it feels like an old friend. And so we tend to stay there.
When you step outside of that, when you walk a path that few others walk, when you do things few others dare, then you are different. And unless you are comfortable with being so, you will experience a lot of heartache.
Some people will resent you for doing what they cannot; some people will hate you for having the ability to reach your goals; some people will be jealous of what they perceive to be an easier life than the one they have; and some will wish for your failure with all of their energy and intent.
Because you are different.
This has nothing to do with obvious factors like your sexuality, your gender, gender identity, race, or anything that is more physically apparent (side note: this is exactly why there is more that binds us in commonality than most people realize; the real differences between people aren’t any of the above – they are differences of mindset and attitude.)
It has everything to do with what you are prepared to do to accomplish your dreams and goals and ambitions – what you are willing to do to create the best possible truth in your own life.
Can you endure being different? Can you tolerate the passive-aggressive snipes that people make without necessarily even realizing they’re doing it? (Although there will definitely be malicious souls as well) Can you stand keeping your family and friends at arm’s length because their constant negativity affects you? Can you stand being an outcast? Can you put up with someone else being celebrated while you toil away in obscurity toward your goal? Can you quiet the voices inside you that question your decision to walk the path you’re on? Can you do all of this and more in the quest for what you really want?
If you cannot, then the likelihood is that you will fail in your resolutions. And that then sets up a vicious circle of disappointment that leads to resentment that leads to eventual hope that the future will be better. But nothing will ever change unless you have the ability to be different – and stay different.
This isn’t a one-off; you aren’t different until you accomplish a goal and then go back to being like everyone else. You stay different because you accomplish that goal and then realize others. Each goal you reach leads to others; the path is never-ending. And the challenges will always be there, no matter how many times you defeat them.
Being different isn’t for everyone, and that’s fine. But for those who want to make a change, then the time to understand the consequences of that is now, rather than later.
Go forward understanding what you are embarking upon; things don’t ever change unless you are willing to take bold steps, to dare where others will not; and to endure with every atom of your being until you reach what you aspire to reach.
Then you keep going, keep climbing, keep striving…because you are different.
And that is most definitely a good thing.
Happy New Year everyone!