Written by: Lady Fuller
The clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, you kiss a loved one, take another sip of champagne or, if you are me, you put yourself to bed happy you were able to stay up this long.
Then, the next morning, you wake up and “Poof” you are supposed to be a new person. A new iteration of self. Someone different than whom you were yesterday: maybe this new self is heading to the gym, planning to eat right, not drink for the month.
And, maybe this new self is even following an “intention”, a platitude you’ve told yourself you must follow: Be nice. Or don’t gossip. Don’t curse. Do sixty sit-ups each morning. Look people in the eye. Discover my passion. Whatever it is, you have convinced yourself that you are supposed to force this new beginning, supposed to wrestle it into submission because of the calendar – that date on a piece of paper hanging on your wall.
Silly? Totally. Realistic? No.
So what the hell is a new beginning? I would argue New Beginnings are experiences that usually hit us on the side of the head, or in the gut, when we least expect it. The shit that happens to us is not the shit we plan for.
Think about that for a second.
New Beginnings usually happen to us when we are worrying about something else. We think if we worry enough about our fears they are unlikely to happen (or at least this is what I’ve been telling myself for 40 plus years) and to some degree we are right. But, to repeat myself, the ugly truth about New Beginnings is that they are the hard stuff, the curve balls that knock the wind out of us and leave us face down in the mud; those are new beginnings, the real ones. They happen when we least expect it and are situations we never see coming, dates that cannot be anticipated or planned for or marked off on a calendar. Certainly not months where we can set an intention for or buy a gym membership in advance. No, no … these beginnings seem to fall out of the sky like messages, nudges, opportunities for change.
Fortunately or unfortunately, I have had a lot of these “New Beginnings” throughout my life, my Mother committed suicide when I was nine: A New Beginning. I lost a business at age thirty-nine that I had worked on for ten years: A New Beginning. I chose to give up Alcohol at forty-one: A New Beginning. And countless others that I won’t bore you with here.
I am sure that you can tick-off many of your own. And you know what? The tricky part is that we usually think of these things as endings, but endings I assure you, they are not.
New Beginnings have always been a favorite topic for philosophers, teachers, writers, and thinkers throughout history. Brene Brown famously said in her book “Rising Strong”: “When we deny our stories, they define us. When we own our stories, we get to write a brave new ending.”
Joseph Campbell wrote: “We must be willing to let go of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.”
Or my personal favorite: “The Beginning is the most important part of the work.” – Plato
What I have learned humbly over and over in my life is that New Beginnings are never pretty and they require two basic hard and simple truths:
1. Ability to leave the past in the past
2. Faith that the unwritten future will be better than the past
Both of the above points above require a combination of living a life mixed with moments of Strength and moments of Surrender.
And maybe that should be our new year’s resolutions after all.
Maybe January first we wake up and think to ourselves, “I don’t know what is ahead, and I know I have zero control over it. But I trust I will be able to surrender to what is in store for me and have the strength to have a say in the ending.”
After all, maybe this New Year is not about a New Beginning. Maybe it is about a New Ending.
Lady Fuller is a serial entrepreneur, and currently CEO of IGC (International Gifting Co.). Lady has contributed to Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” blog and is currently writing a memoir. Lady has an MBA from University of San Francisco and has a passion for entrepreneurs, traveling to remote places in the world, and the environment. Lady lives in Woody Creek with her husband and two children.