It seems with another new year, everyone is ready to start again. But is that such a good thing? Here are 8 pros and cons of new beginnings.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, we’ve made it into the most reflective portion of the adult calendar. The advent of another new year. 2017 approaches.

Most of the feedback I’ve heard on 2016 has been that it was a pretty terrible for people. It’s certainly been marred with a lot of unfortunate passings, including the recent passing of Carrie Fisher. The Republicans won the Election, Pokemon Go came and went, and Harambe was and still is a thing.

A new year always bring the sense that everything is going to be a completely clean slate. A chance to start again. A season of new beginnings. In fact, every single year I can remember, people have always talked about next year being their year and going to heaven in 2007 and doing great in 2008 and we’ll be fine 2009 and do it again 2010 and skip a few and we gonna fix theens in 2016… Fresh resolutions, new experiences, and most importantly it seems, a year that wasn’t like last year.

But I think about new beginnings and I wonder if our attitude towards them is actually healthy or productive. Is it actually a good thing that 2017 is approaching and all most people seem to be wishing for is a completely new chance to start again? So I’ve done some further thinking on the topic, and I submit to you my 8 pros and cons of new beginnings.

Pro #1: Clean slates are exciting

I think we love the idea of new beginnings and proclaiming great things over the start of our year and being inspired and all the rest of it because everyone loves a second chance. Especially as people get older (and I really mean every year over the age of 17), the number of times a person says “boy if I could do that again I would…” dramatically increases. Each statement becomes increasingly sadder as the number of missed or failed opportunities starts to increase.

Hence the idea of a clean slate, hey, that’s pretty great. Sometimes something has so catastrophically failed that the correct solution is to completely destroy it and try again. Clean slates can be exactly what you need.

Con #1: You don’t actually finish anything

The first problem would be that if every single year we’re going for new beginnings, it probably means we’re leaving a lot of unfinished business behind us. A lot of people set out and say that this next new year is going to be a year where you’re going to make new friends and move to new places and settle in new opportunities.

But, what happened to your old ones?

Did you stick around long enough to actually see the reward of staying in the same place or heading in the same direction for long enough?

The other night I was out looking at Christmas lights with some friends and a comment was made about someone’s salary. I just thought, well, of course they’re doing well because they’ve stayed in the same direction for a large number of years. They’ve become an expert. They’ve negotiated the challenges. They’ve stuck around. Their opinion can be trusted.

I wonder how many of us are keen to jump ship before the ship has fully left the harbour? A person who continually starts things they never finish, or that they finish poorly or fail to resolve well, is essentially nothing more than a destroyer.

Pro #2: Openness to change means you don’t stay stagnant

It can be dangerous when people become set in their ways. I think it’s possible for any of us to become set in a wrong way. Think of the peril who thinks that the only way to make friends is if the other person does all the work. They develop a spirit of entitlement, that everyone should bow to their needs or desires. If that spirit never changes, that person is really not the type of person who’s going to have lots of friends.

So I think remaining humble, open, and teachable… they’re all really great traits. They keep you from getting blindsided by any person’s biggest enemy – their own pride.

Con #2: Your changes may make you worse

One of my poet friends wrote a great poem just last night entitled Dark Moments Change You. Definitely worth giving a read. It’s a realistic reflection on the fact that not all change is good. We always talk about coming through the fire and not smelling like smoke. But in life, not all of us are so lucky. Sometimes we end up getting severely burnt in the fire. We incur physical or emotional injuries. We take the wrong lesson from a situation in our life.

It’s possible that we want a new beginning for the wrong reason. Because we’re running from something. Because we’re not fixing something. Because we’re set on a dark path where we aren’t seeking out the light.

Don’t just change for change’s sake. Change because your life needs you to.

Pro #3: A new beginning may just be a new perspective

One of my friends when I mentioned I was going to write about this said that new beginnings don’t necessarily mean a new thing, but it could just mean a new perspective. Sometimes that’s all that’s needed to cause you to see and interact with things in the right light. Maybe you’ve only seen the negative in it, have you considered the positive? Conversely, maybe all you’ve seen is a naively optimistic viewpoint – perhaps what progress in your life requires is some balance.

I think it’s very true that our perspective is something we always need to be reevaluating. For as a man or a woman thinks in their heart, so they are.

Perhaps what you’re thinking isn’t enough.

Con #3: Didn’t you say it’d be different last year?

“This year, I’ll finally…”

“I won’t make the same mistakes as last year”

“I’ll make sure I finally set things right with…”

Wait, didn’t you say this last year?

And another year has gone passed and you’re saying it again? Or still?

Procrastination. The destroyer of lives. Not just your own, either. Pastor Joel A’Bell once said very well that we live in a land of opportunity, but not unlimited opportunity. There are literal windows of opportunity for certain moments in life to occur. You may not be able to compete in an athletic event if you wait too long and your body misses its prime competitive window. You may not get the job if you keep putting off developing your skillset or taking that promotion that has opened for a limited time only. You may not make those key relationship connections if you’re sharp or cutting with the relationships immediately in front of you.

Maybe instead of, “This year I’ll finally…”, maybe it’s time to say, “You know what? I’m going to work out what’s stopping me first”.

Pro #4: It’s a chance to bring yourself somewhere new

They say that sometimes all you need is a change of scenery. Sometimes they’re right. I think there are moments of realization in life when you realize that your opportunities in this company are too small. Or that your friendships aren’t actually growing you. Or that you’re becoming a big fish in a very small pond.

And sometimes that discomfort leads to a good change. When, for the right reasons, you’ve decided it’s time to pursue your calling at a higher level. You’ve decided to take the next step up the staircase, instead of just staying on this one. There’s a destination in mind, and you have to keep climbing.

People often say that life isn’t about the destination, but the journey. I understand that, but I think to neglect your destination is perilous. No one ever says that when they get on a plane at the airport, when they ask someone to pick them up and drop them off somewhere, or when they need something moved from one place to another. So, why do we ignore the destination of our lives when we know there are things we are called to?

That wasn’t to discourage you by the way, it was to challenge you. Don’t get so discouraged you give up. Just be realistic that the next step is important because it brings you closer to the destination.

Change is necessary, as long as we make the right changes for the right reasons.

Con #4: …But it’s the same you

Which leads to the final con. You may find the perfect man or the perfect woman who is absolutely sublime marriage material. Car career charisma the whole deal. And you may be thinking man, in 2017, I’ll finally meet the right one.

Here’s the problem though.

They may be new, but it’s the same you.

You bring the same you into every relationship you’ll ever have. And if the last ones didn’t work because of something that was actually wrong with you, you could ruin your perfect man or woman for good. Sobering, but true.

That’s just one example of course. You could move to a new country with the same old attitudes, and still feel trapped, ineffective, disconnected. You could start a new job with the same undermining spirit. You could move to a new church and still hate every single opportunity to serve. You could move to a new house, but still treat it with malcontent. You could have every single new beginning you’ve ever dreamed of in this new year.

But it’s the same you wherever you go. And perhaps there’ll be no true change until it happens to the person in the mirror.

Or as someone else once put it, you can’t pour new wine into old wineskins. The old wineskins will leak it all out. And here you are, desiring, nay, demanding new wine with your entitled frustrated spirit, and yet there’s a hole in your bucket that you plan on spending another year dancing around.

Don’t ruin your opportunity. Trying to outrun yourself is a race you’ll never win.

So, it’s a new year. It’s a new chance. Or perhaps, it’s the same chance, but refocused. It’s the same vision, but with more deliberate action. Or perhaps it is a change, but for the right reasons. Decisions that bring you closer to and not further away from the place you’re supposed to be.

Happy new year to you and yours. Looking forward to what 2017 does bring, and looking forward to hearing how you handled every new opportunity with humility and wisdom, and made it count.

Don’t get worse, get better.

And please, let’s leave Harambe in peace in 2017.

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