January is a month of newness in many ways. It marks the beginning of a new calendar year. For many businesses, January also brings the start of a new fiscal year, as well, and organizations often use the New Year as a time to institute new policies. People frequently come into the first month of the year with new plans or expectations—a new gym membership, a new savings account, a new hobby to start, or a new personal goal. There’s plenty of discussion about which types of resolutions are good or helpful or healthy and which ones aren’t, but most people can generally agree on the basic premise. We like fresh starts. We like clean slates. We like chances to start over, to try again.
Now, I don’t want to hate on New Year’s resolutions, but I think we deserve more than just one shot at a fresh start each year. I think any given moment can be a chance to start again. A few months ago, I was visiting a friend receiving long-term care in a hospital. Her partner, a good friend of mine, was there as well. We grabbed a cup of coffee and talked for a bit, and I asked how her day was going. She answered, “Well, the first today was pretty shitty, but the second today has been great!”
I was confused, so she explained. My friend has struggled with addiction in the past and has been in recovery for the last few years. But the hospitalization of her partner and the stress of that situation had recently made her recovery very difficult. She admitted to me that earlier that morning she had made some unhealthy choices. Since she didn’t want her day to be defined by those choices, she decided to start it over. She told me she had sat down, had some lunch, took a walk, and gave herself a fresh start.
When it comes to the areas in which we struggle, it can be very difficult to move past rough patches or mistakes. Sometimes it’s hard to move forward because we sit in denial. Sometimes it’s hard to move forward because we get stuck in a shame cycle, beating ourselves up. Sometimes it’s hard to move forward because we genuinely just aren’t sure how. But the idea of setting all that aside for a moment and deciding to give myself a fresh start—that’s something I can endorse wholly.
That concept of starting fresh can look very different from person to person. The fresh start could be like my friend’s: an opportunity to “reset” and move forward after a slip-up. It could be choosing a new strategy to deal with a struggle. It could be the moment you reach out to someone for help.
Or maybe it’s the moment you start to repair a relationship or the moment you decide to let go of one. Maybe it’s the moment you choose to confront something you’ve been avoiding or the moment you recommit to loving yourself.
Maybe you decide to start over in the middle of a day or right away in the morning. Or maybe it’s right before bed. But that’s the beauty of it—it can be any day, any time.
One of my favorite lyrics is from a Taylor Swift song. It says, “I hope you remember: Today is never too late to be brand new.” I love this idea and think it fits perfectly with my friend’s decision to start her day over. Sure, you can make a New Year’s resolution and get that clean slate at the start of the year. But you can also have that clean slate right now. It’s not too early or too late. Right now is the perfect time.
I invite you to look at your life and see where you want a fresh start. Be honest about the struggles you’ve been afraid to share. Talk to the person you’ve been anxious to talk to. Make the appointment you’ve been putting off. Give yourself permission to move past the places you feel stuck. Whether it’s a small shift in attitude or a huge change in lifestyle, you deserve the fresh start. You deserve a second, fifth, and one hundredth chance. Don’t give up on yourself.
Because whether it was the moment the ball dropped on January 1st or if it will be halfway through the year, I hope you remember that Taylor Swift quote: Today is never too late to be brand new.