The beginning of the calendar year is a time of self analysis. When the fireworks stop and the hangovers fade away, many people reflect on the year that has passed and assess where they are in life.
The common themes that most people focus on are their diet and bank balance - because in all likelihood dents have been put in both of those over the holiday season.
For others however, the soul searching that takes place in early January goes significantly deeper.
If people are unhappy at work or in their relationships, they often face the daunting prospect of spending another year in a job they hate or waking up next to a person who isn't quite right for them. The very idea that they will be in the same position for another year can be too much to handle.
So why does this 'personal baggage check' happen now?
In my view, it's not simply because people want to start the new year with a clean slate. While that notion makes some sense, I think there is a little more to it.
The reality is, it's difficult to examine your position in life when you are in a routine. During the grind of a year we get into a pattern of work-eat-sleep-work-eat-sleep, and it's hard to actually step back and think about where we are placed. It just so happens that many of us get the opportunity to do this when we shut down for a few weeks in December/January.
So how likely is it for these significant changes to actually stick?
A year is a long time and we seem to find ourselves doing this all over again in another twelve months. That old cliché of "old habits die hard" is more profound than we may realise.
I believe the major reason that resolutions fail is because people often don't have the patience or discipline to allow them to succeed.
I've been guilty of this several times in my life.
It's easy to start a new process, but the challenge is staying focussed and committed enough to see it through. According to some research, it takes about 66 days to form a new habit - so if you want to see results you have to be persistent.
Change almost always involves removing something, or in some cases someone from your life. Before making any significant changes, I believe it is important to ask yourself why you're making that amendment. If you are somewhat uncertain about whether the change is a good idea, you should canvas the thoughts of others who you respect. It would be best if these people don't have a vested interest in the outcome of your change. A balanced non judgemental view is what you should be seeking.
Compiling a list of all the possible positives and negatives can help you validate if the change will be worthwhile. In my opinion it's a simple formula - if you project more positives than negatives, you should go ahead and make the adjustment.
It might be a good idea to keep that list and hang it up somewhere you will see it every day. Change can be challenging and there may be times throughout the process when you want to quit. Having a visual reminder of why you're on a particular path can help you avoid pulling the plug when the going gets tough.
For those of you implementing changes right now, I wish you all the best of luck. You should be commended for trying to create a positive impact on your existence.
After all, this is your life and it's ending one second at a time.