It’s human nature to set arbitrary points in time after which we envision everything being different. Decadal birthdays, graduation, or the ultimate classic: New Year’s.

We’ll often enter a new year with resolutions to do things differently—which is to say: better. To give up unhealthy habits, limit our consumption of addictive substances, lose weight, exercise more. It’s as if one could flip a switch that would instantly alter our habits and our own personalities along with them on some specific date.

The realisation that this often fails leaves us in equal measures confounded and frustrated—even if it’s a good bit stranger to assume that such arbitrary acts could actually succeed.

One does, of course, have to begin the process of saying goodbye to damaging habits at some point. After all, we all know by now that smoking doesn’t prolong life, too much alcohol doesn’t preserve our bodies, and that we really could reconsider our meat consumption in light of the climate crisis.

It’s just as certain, however, that preparation and gradual transition are essential to the achievement of lasting success.

Those who expect miracles from themselves will be consistently disappointed, while those who allow themselves time to adapt to new things will be amazed by the changes that are possible.

But if we really are dead set on doing things differently in the new year, we could choose to categorically defy society’s expectations of New Year’s resolutions by asking not, “What could I improve about how I’m living my life?” but instead: “How am I actually feeling?”

This would bring about a brief mental withdrawal from our everyday world, permitting questions for which there’s little space in our now-oriented consumer era.

So instead of, “Where do I want to go next, and how fast can I do it?” one could ask: How can I feel good in the here and now? Because despite the new calendar, the new year, now is always. And those who succeed in navigating the now have already won.

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