I was at an office supply store the other day with my daughter looking for mechanical pencils*. We headed back through rows and rows of desks and office chairs. Right in the middle of this huge store, just before the pencil aisle, we rounded a corner and Abbie let out a squeal of delight.
In front of us was a huge, colorful display of 2016 calendars.

“Daddy – look at all the new calendars! Can I get one?”

I responded with a timeless gem of fatherly wisdom handed down through the generations. “Ask your mother.”

Abbie’s not the only one excited about the new year. There is something about this time that gets everybody all giddy. It’s a new year, so now we’re going to do all this new stuff. We’re going to set all these resolutions and run after them with this newfound resolve. We’re going to be nothing short of amazing.

We tear into the new year like people on a mission. But by the end of January, we revert back to how it was before. What went wrong?

I blame it on a little assumption we all make around this time. This assumption rears its head when people say little catch phrases like “New year, new you.”

All of a sudden, because a number on a calendar has changed by a single digit, that means we are we are somehow going to be completely different people. We really try to be different, and it works for a while, as we get up earlier and work harder. We may even eat a couple of salads.

But at some point we’re going to go back to being the same old us, the ones who like to hit the snooze button, like to watch TV, and definitely do not like salad. Meanwhile, our goals are unmet, and we are left right back where we started, only now we’re frustrated and nursing our egos.

Why do we assume that one day we are going to wake up and be different people? You know what you get for assuming, right?

I’ve got an idea. What if, instead of assuming you’re already a different person just because it’s a new year, you start with exactly where – and who – you are right now.

You have to start somewhere, right? Why not right here? Spend a little time pondering what “right here” means for you. Take an honest inventory of what’s gotten you to this starting point. Remember – you are where you are because of everything you’ve done up to now. And where you are is a reflection of who you are.

Instead of just assuming you’re going to be some kind of superhero this year, maybe try to figure out the kind of person who would accomplish all the goals you’re wanting to set. Maybe you need to be a morning person to be able to get up and exercise. Or maybe you need to be a little more assertive to make those sales calls. Add these traits to your list of goals. Work on making those traits a habit. Or maybe, just maybe, you are setting unrealistic goals. Make goals that line up with who you are, and you just might succeed.

You don’t have to be a different person to accomplish what you set out to do this year. You just have to be a better version of you. And that starts with looking at where you are now so you can figure out where you need to go.

Happy 2016. Here’s to actually achieving those goals this year.

* That might be one of the least rock and roll sentences I’ve ever written.