And by the time morning rolled around, my head felt as if an angry carpenter drilled holes in my head with a rusty brace and bit, and filled it full of rice and cold molasses.
Our celebrations are much different now. In fact, after hearing annual holiday horror stories, we made the decision several years ago to celebrate New Year’s at home.
This year we welcomed 2014 sipping chamomile tea and eating champagne-flavored truffles.
I can’t say I miss waking up with my mouth as dry as the Sahara. But I do still love New Year’s.
It’s not the color, because with all the bare trees it can be as stark as a moonscape in January. Football is all but over, it’s too cold for festivals and gardening opportunities are limited, but for some reason, January is almost like the first day of kindergarten.
It’s like I’m headed off on an adventure with a spiffy new lunchbox, a fresh writing pad and a pocket full of fat pencils.
The old year is behind us, and the New Year holds all the promise you can imagine.
I think that’s the key — imagining that life can be better.
That’s not to say that life isn’t already a gift, but I think it’s human nature to want to do better — reach higher, learn more, look better and improve your life.
I’ve actually read a great deal and attended seminars on this topic, and while I wouldn’t pass myself off as an expert, I can say with confidence that I know a thing or two about self-improvement.
The key to a better life is to lose old habits that take you nowhere and form new ones that can take you anywhere.
The motivational speaker Jim Rohn said it as good as anyone, “A few bad habits repeated daily leads to failure. Conversely, a few good ones repeated each day leads to success.”
The first time I read these words, it was empowering. It should have been obvious to me, but when he said a small change in my behavior could mean the difference between failure and success, it changed my life. This meant I had a level of control over my future.
For example if instead of sitting in front of the TV each night until bedtime, I spent that time reading, practicing, planning, exercising or doing some other activity to improve myself, it would have positive consequences down the road.
Not long after reading Rohn’s book, I took advantage of the phone company’s generous tuition-aid plan and headed back to school. I received a promotion at work before graduation.
I went on to get my masters degree, and I kept moving up at work.
I sometimes feel like I sound preachy, but New Year’s is a special time of year when people are often open to encouragement.
I’d like to end with another Rohn quote that I think is important, especially for the younger folks: “If you work hard at your job, you can make a living. If you work hard on yourself, you can make a fortune.”
Happy New Year.
Rick Watson is a columnist and author. His latest book Life Happens is available on Amazon.com. You can contact him via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.