“I can’t dance.”

Those were the first three words I uttered when my best friend dragged me along to a burlesque dance class about a year ago. Regardless, I tagged along with her, barring my doubts and insecurities. Little did I know that this would open up a whole new door of possibilities, not just for my mind, but my body and soul. Why did I take this leap of faith you might ask? What was the thing that caused me to change my perspective suddenly? Simple. It was a New Year.

Our culture’s perspective of the New Year being seen as a rebirth of sorts is a common belief. Most prominently seen in the days after Christmas, the start of the year and the month of January, the start of a new year offers us a chance to (if we choose) reinvent ourselves. One area it seems that people are always looking to change is their physical appearance. Each January, roughly one in three Americans resolve to better themselves in some way. A much smaller percentage of people actually make good on those resolutions. While about 75 percent of people stick to their goals for at least a week, less than half (46 percent) are still on target six months later, a 2002 study found. Out of these statistics, according to a study done by the University of Scranton, the number one New Year’s resolution is to lose weight. This resolution is closely followed by volunteering more often, staying in touch with friends and family and quitting smoking.

We approach self-improvement with intentions that are noble, but short-sighted. In the excitement, we often get caught up in thinking about short-term improvement, as opposed to long-term change. An example is improving for the sake of appearances, instead of striving towards greater satisfaction and fulfillment with ourselves.

Realizing self-fulfillment may take a great deal of time thinking about your true intentions. The best way to know if something is truly worth achieving for the purpose of self-fulfillment is to think about your overall goal. Say, for example, your New Year’s resolution is to lose weight. Are you doing it because you want to be a healthier, more active individual? Or is it a principle of self-confidence and body insecurities initiated by the media and those around you?

I know that what I’m saying may not be what you want to hear. I, for one, can admit to falling into the trap of setting goals and even resolutions that serve a purpose other than self-fulfillment—however noble they may have been at the start. And then, other goals or adventures which I have fallen into or not put much thought into have transformed me into a more confident, happier individual.

So, all I can say to you, my friends is this:

Happy 2014. Welcome to the year of you, whatever that may be. Never say that you can’t, because often, that challenge is what will transform you, surprise you and give you the most satisfaction when you finally do achieve it on your own terms.

Read another perspective on New Year’s resolutions in A FRESH START: How to make a New Year’s resolution that sticks>>


image: David Niblack