Beginnings: New year, not-so-new you.

January 15, 2023

Illustration of the December of last year's calendar peeking out of recycling bin

So, how are your New Year’s resolutions going?

It’s a new year; a chance for a fresh start as we fill in the empty calendar. Or…is it really? Whether you were watching the countdown or fast asleep in dreamland, when the clock struck midnight on December 31st did you suddenly become a new version of yourself?

If the answer is yes, there are scientists who would be interested in talking to you. But for the rest of us, it’s safe to say that we remain the same version of ourselves. Sure it is the start of another day, but on a wide enough timeline, there is no real beginning or end. Instead, each moment is a continuation.

Some of us might prefer to leave the past behind: we look forward to tossing out last year’s calendar and putting up a fresh one. But as we walk past the recycling bin in the days that follow, that old crinkled calendar peeks out as a physical reminder of what was. Although we may be ready to move forward, we are still connected to our pasts – whether we like it or not.

There are times when it sure would be nice to truly wipe the slate clean – hit undo on a few things, rewind with hindsight, and try again. But we are inextricably woven into a web of interconnectivity: our actions have consequences, and the best we can do is live with them. Sadly, beginnings aren’t always as fresh as we hope them to be.

But before we slide into despair, there is some good news: the future is yet to be written. If we let go of the idea that new beginnings happen on their own, we can find empowerment in the potential of every moment. While this juncture may not be as fresh as we once hoped, it is also imbued with the potential for us to choose a fresh start. Each and every moment is a chance to begin again – not just when you pin up a blank calendar.

Illustration of assessing what went well in a journal.

So as we step into the future, we have choice. And those choices are informed by past experience. Some of these old habits and modes of being might be skillful – but others might not. In our aspirations to evolve into better versions of ourselves, the messy entanglements that make up our existence must be taken into account. The past is intertwined with our being – our brains, communities, workplaces, etc – and the only way to untangle the knots is to enter the tangle fully.

Despite conflict being natural, these knots can be messy. At the same time, the relationships intertwined with them bind us to each other in beautiful, profound, and serendipitous ways. The work required by each of us is to tend to these knots as best we can, with skill and care.


All of that said, the new year is still an opportunity for us to reflect and take stock:

  • What did you do last year in your relationships that was beneficial? Let this be encouragement to continue putting effort into the personal work.
  • What did you do last year that proved to be rather detrimental? Let this be a compass towards finding appropriate action and minimizing bad habits going forward.

It takes a bit of work to accept responsibility and manage the momentum of the past, but with daily effort we can slowly find big change. Here at Mediation Services, we aim to help with the more friction-y aspects of untangling conflict in life, love, and livelihood.

Sometimes it can feel like we’re stuck in conflicts that are bigger than we can handle. In such cases, reaching out for help is the lifeline we need.

Our office inbox is open and the phone is plugged in, and we’re on the other side waiting to listen and help. Whether you’re in need of assistance from a third party mediator or are looking to learn tools to help solve your own problems, we are here for you.

Relationships can be difficult but they are also integral to living, and so we owe it to ourselves to not give up on them so easily. Find hope in the realization that change is constant and every moment is an opportunity to spark something new.

So: it’s a new year, and you’re sort-of-the-same-old you. Now what?

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