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For the last few weeks, you and I’ve been assaulted by the usual flood of ads saying things like, “A New Year, A New You” and similar cliche statements which we’ve heard every late December and early January throughout our lives. But wait, what if I’m happy with the old me? Oh sure, I’m a believer in Kaizen, a philosophy of continual self-improvement. I spend a lot of time thinking about how to do things better tomorrow than today and how to be a better person tomorrow than I am today. Still, I’m pretty happy with who I am today and find it a little off-putting to have some anonymous advertising copywriter suggest that, because the calendar changed years, I need to create an entirely new persona. Seriously? Or wait, does this anonymous copywriter know things about me? I mean, this is the age of no privacy, so perhaps the copywriter whom I don’t know actually knows me really well and thinks there are things wrong with me that need immediate attention. Nah, even if that’s true, and it might be, the companies doing the advertising don’t care about that kind of stuff, they’re only interested in selling me something.
Re-Frame the Messages
Perhaps, however, I could re-frame the advertising messages. Instead of viewing them so cynically, maybe I could try to see them as a reminder to take a personal inventory. They could remind me to do a quick review to see where I am compared to where I want to be in my multiple lives as an individual, a husband, a father, a writer, a neighbor, a speaker, a musician, a member of the global society, and a citizen of my country.
See the Messages as Reminders
Maybe the annual onslaught of end-of-the-year advertising messages can actually serve a worthwhile purpose. Instead of just their explicit purpose which is to persuade us to spend money on some product or service, they can serve as a reminder to reflect on where we are in our lives. For me, maybe the change in the calendar can serve as a reminder to think about what I’ve done well in the past year and what needs some work. Perhaps I can talk with friends, family members, colleagues, and customers to get their feedback. Then, I can think about the tactics I’ll use to improve myself in the areas that might need work.
We’re Pretty Good Already
So, on reflection, as the calendar changes to another new year, here’s what I think. I think you and I are pretty good, just the way we are. I think you and I are probably pretty kind and compassionate already. We can use the change of the calendar as motivation to find ways to be more compassionate and kind, and more empathetic. We can use it as a reminder to work on getting better at treating everyone with dignity and respect. We’ll improve our listening skills. We’ll work on being better human beings than we already are. But, does a new year mean it’s time for a whole new you or a whole new me? Nah. Happy New Year!
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