New Year Advantage

Derek Ouellette —  December 31, 2012

The new year festival was among the most important for ancient cultures where there were no such thing as progress or the passage of time. Life was circular. The new year represented rebirth. It didn’t mean that things were moving forward, it meant that things we beginning again. There was no such thing as history or of counting of years, only repetition. Cycles. Seasons.

“The purposes of a modern historian would indeed have had no meaning in Sumer, for Sumerians – paradoxically, since they invented writing, the instrument that makes history possible – had no sense of history. The city-states had been founded by gods in time immemorial; and it was the gods who had given the Sumerians… all the tools and weapons and marvellous inventions that we know were the products of their own ingenuity. “Development” and “evolution” – words of such importance to us – would have meant little in the timeless culture of Sumer, where everything that was – their city, their fields, their herds, their plows – had always been.” (T.Cahill, 1998, p.18)

But today we have a distinct advantage: history. Our worldview allows us to see tomorrow as an opportunity to move forward. And though many professional motivational speakers will tell you that “there’s nothing magical about January 1,” a subtle reminder in July or August that the time to change your life is now, come January 1 these same motivational speakers begin to sing a different tune.

That is because they know that while there may not be anything magical about January 1, there is certainly something mythical about January 1 in our narrative. The ethos of our culture has everybody believing that with January 1 comes an opportunity. An opportunity to do better, to go further, to create a new bucket list, to improve your life. While these opportunities exist every day, January 1 represents just the right motivation, just the right springboard, to spark most of us to do what we ought to do anyways.

It allows us to set short term goals and create checklists, so that at the end of the twelve month period we can measure our level of success and progress.

There’s an old yet true adage;

What doesn’t get measured does’t get done.

Set a goal, make a plan. You won’t accomplish everything on your list, but at least you won’t be stuck in that vicious never ending cycle that leaves so many feeling like life has passed them by.

Let’s not squander our New Years Advantage.


  • Show my wife I love her with greater creativity.
  • Study good dads and learn from them.
  • Pour more energy into church relationships.
  • Blog at least twice a week.
  • Read and review 20 books for my blog.
  • Read through the scriptures in a year.
  • Find a way to increase my revenue by 20%.
  • Donate more.
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Derek Ouellette

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a husband, new dad, speaker, writer, christian. see my profile here.