New Year’s Day. A fresh start. A new chapter in life waiting to be written. New questions to be asked, embraced, and loved. Answers to be discovered and then lived in this transformative year of delight and self-discovery. Today carve out a quiet interlude for yourself in which to dream, pen in hand. Only dreams give birth to change.Sarah Ban Breathnach
Cycles in our lives
We don’t often recognize cycles or acknowledge the impact cycles have on our lives. The simple reality is that geophysical cycles dominate much of the activity of our life on earth. The daily, tidal, lunar and seasonal (or annual) cycles* provide cues which coordinates most behaviors including how and when we eat, our daily and seasonal movement to and from school or work, our growth, how we reproduce, our sleep patterns and much else.
Much of our behavior is controlled, modulated or at least ‘fine-tuned’ by an internal 24-hour circadian timer in anticipation of the varying demands of the day/night cycle. Despite the movement towards a 24/7 structure, real-time social time and a world divided into time zones, human behavior is still dominated by geophysical sunrise and sunset.
Ignoring or fiddling with biological time has an impact on us. Studies have found a measurable effect on our health, exacerbating, for example, cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity and mental health problems .
While circadian cycles dominate our physiology and behavior and are more easily recognized, the impact of annual periods is less obvious but no less critical. Our anniversary and birthday celebrations are great reminders of the importance of yearly cycles. But those celebrations tend to have limited lasting impact, as the commemoration dominates the event. New Years is different.
In business, companies which have undergone a digital transformation can review progress by the pulse of every second. And for some companies, the second by second or minute by minute changes can inform adjustments that can lead to profound differences in results. But, the vast majority of large businesses, especially the stock market listed publicly-traded firms, tend to focus much more on quarterly and annual results. Investors in the stock market and analysts who guide them favor quarterly results, while the management teams inside those companies really understand the limitations of those shorter-term fluctuations, and prefer the more critical measure of progress – the annual results.
The simple reality is that horizon and perspective matter a lot. If you get too close to the Mona Lisa, the individual dots become mere dots. Move too far away, and the distance makes the painting indistinct. The wrong perspective, too near or too far, do not convey the brilliance of the masterpiece when seen from just the right distance.
Like any masterpiece, we are living art, and with the wrong perspective, we are likely to paint small dots that have no connection or purpose, or not see the picture that could be crafted.
The New Year Cycle
A few years ago, I tried to de-emphasize the New Year event, by reflecting that each new day is an opportunity for a new beginning.
But the daily rhythm is not as natural a cycle for reflection, taking score, celebrating wins, learning from mistakes, and resolving to do better. The New Year is perfect for that!
The New Year is special. We are swept up in a social adrenalin filled surge to the end of the year. Collectively we see the crossing over from one year to another as a unique marker. And, there seems to be no better time to reflect on what was, what could be and what we are willing to do to make it happen.
Each year I get older, and each year it seems that the cycle is shorter than the previous year. It’s not that the periods are absolutely shorter. The annual cycles are relatively shorter. When I was 5, the finished year represented 20% of my lifecycle. At 50+, it’s a mere 2%. And that pace will keep accelerating until there are no more years.
Having spent the last 30+ years focusing on transformation and driving meaningful change, I am happy with the acceleration taking place. I love change and the new opportunities they bring. More important, I have come to believe that life itself is about embracing and leveraging change.
Wish For New Year
Today as I reflect on the passing of another year and watch the calendar change from 2018 to 2019, I am grateful for the many blessings of the past. I remember and acknowledge the fantastic moments we have shared, and the difference you have brought to my life. Thank you!
And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been.Rainer Maria Rilke
2019 is a blank canvas, filled with possibilities. Let’s commit to painting our best work yet.
Happy New Year to you and your family. May 2019 be our best year ever!
Inspired by: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960982208008658
Tidal (12.8 hours)
Daily (24 hours ± 30 seconds)
Lunar (29.53 days)
Seasonal (365.24 days)