Thursday, January 09, 2014

A new start ~ My column from Sunday's paper

New Year’s celebrations have changed for Jilda and me. There were times in the past we spent New Year’s Eve wearing pointy hats, laughing, dancing, kissing and toasting the New Year.

And by the time morning rolled around, my head felt as if an angry carpenter drilled holes in my head with a rusty brace and bit, and filled it full of rice and cold molasses.

Our celebrations are much different now. In fact, after hearing annual holiday horror stories, we made the decision several years ago to celebrate New Year’s at home.

This year we welcomed 2014 sipping chamomile tea and eating champagne-flavored truffles.

I can’t say I miss waking up with my mouth as dry as the Sahara. But I do still love New Year’s.

It’s not the color, because with all the bare trees it can be as stark as a moonscape in January. Football is all but over, it’s too cold for festivals and gardening opportunities are limited, but for some reason, January is almost like the first day of kindergarten.

It’s like I’m headed off on an adventure with a spiffy new lunchbox, a fresh writing pad and a pocket full of fat pencils.

The old year is behind us, and the New Year holds all the promise you can imagine.

I think that’s the key — imagining that life can be better.

That’s not to say that life isn’t already a gift, but I think it’s human nature to want to do better — reach higher, learn more, look better and improve your life.

I’ve actually read a great deal and attended seminars on this topic, and while I wouldn’t pass myself off as an expert, I can say with confidence that I know a thing or two about self-improvement.

The key to a better life is to lose old habits that take you nowhere and form new ones that can take you anywhere.

The motivational speaker Jim Rohn said it as good as anyone, “A few bad habits repeated daily leads to failure. Conversely, a few good ones repeated each day leads to success.”

The first time I read these words, it was empowering. It should have been obvious to me, but when he said a small change in my behavior could mean the difference between failure and success, it changed my life. This meant I had a level of control over my future.

For example if instead of sitting in front of the TV each night until bedtime, I spent that time reading, practicing, planning, exercising or doing some other activity to improve myself, it would have positive consequences down the road.

Not long after reading Rohn’s book, I took advantage of the phone company’s generous tuition-aid plan and headed back to school. I received a promotion at work before graduation.

I went on to get my masters degree, and I kept moving up at work.

I sometimes feel like I sound preachy, but New Year’s is a special time of year when people are often open to encouragement.

I’d like to end with another Rohn quote that I think is important, especially for the younger folks: “If you work hard at your job, you can make a living. If you work hard on yourself, you can make a fortune.”

Happy New Year.


  1. Well said. You don't sound preachy at all. You sound like a wise man.

  2. Anonymous9:44 PM

    That last quote is wonderful!!

  3. I love quotes Rick and the quotes from Rohn are inspiring and uplifting :)

  4. Enjoyed the read, also sage advice. We too, have settled for a more sedate New Years eve celebration, and have found the rewards very satisfying.

    Also thanks for the quotes. I store them under 'save the good stuff'.

  5. Not preachy at all - very encouraging, and just what I needed to hear. Thank you so much!

  6. That's very good.


  7. It's been the same with us. We no longer do the New Years parties and we go to bed at a decent hour and get up early the next morning. Knowing that we have a new calendar is as exciting as starting a new scribbler in grade one.

    Self improvement is an ever ending endeavour.
    Here's to a good year for you and Jilda.

  8. What a wonderful post! The writing was gifted, and the message was perfect! So many years a of my career were spent trying to get that very message across to the students I loved and taught. My prayer tonight will be that many young people happen upon your website and read this post.

  9. Good post. "Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans". Wishing you all that's good for 2014.

  10. very inspirational post, Happy New Year Rick!


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