In comparison to other holidays, the modern traditions surrounding the celebration of New Year’s Eve are quite strange. Christmas is spent exchanging presents with family. Thanksgiving is spent carving a turkey and pushing one’s limit of gluttony. But what do we do on New Year’s? We celebrate the earth’s full orbit around the sun with a night of drinking, debauchery, and disillusionment. Ironically, after that crazy night of unabashed self-indulgence, we vow to do away with it all, to make ourselves better people chock full of discipline and virtues. All this, in the form of the all-revered New Year’s Resolution.
What is so special about the turning of a calendar page that suddenly boosts everyone’s resolve to try and achieve his or her goals? And why does it always fail? Ironically, this is the time of the year, when those resolutions are either given up or taking a back seat to other more pressing matters of life.
A quick lesson from Andrew Carnegie would help throw some light on the situation.
Andrew Carnegie was the American Billionaire who made his riches betting on the up and coming steel industry of the early 1900’s. Born as the son of Irish immigrants, he worked for the majority of his childhood, making a measly $1.20 per week. Over time, he saved up enough money to start investing in the railroad industry. Thousands of lost dollars and hundreds of well-spent man-hours later, he ended up becoming the largest steel tycoon the world had ever seen.
Now this digression isn’t without reason. Andrew Carnegie is among the top success stories the world has ever seen. He is a man who transformed his abstract desire for success into tangible results, and did so without any kind of prodding or external motivation.
Andrew Carnegie and other such successful people never required some kind of a monumental event in their life to make a change. Rather, their successes were fueled by one thing: hatred. Not disfavor. Not animosity. Utter and vehement hatred. But of what?
Well, they knew that there was something lacking in their life. Something was absent from their lives that made them unhappy, whether money, fame, power or whatever else. They reached a point where that absence pained them so much that they had to make a change. And at that point, they began to turn their lives around. For Andrew Carnegie, that hatred was directed towards poverty. He hated the fact that he had to work for minimum wages instead of focusing on his education. He hated the fact that he sometimes went to bed hungry. He hated it so much, in fact, that he devoted large amounts of his eventual wealth to making sure that people had schools and libraries available so that they could educate themselves.
Now that gives some indication why most New Year’s resolutions fail. We all have goals that we want to achieve, but we simply do not want them badly enough to continue to pursue them even when the going gets tough. Even though we might have had these goals for our entire lives, we falsely believe that the start of a new year will give us enough external motivation to pursue our dreams. The problem is, that the rotation of the earth will never give us enough hatred of our current situations to want to make the change. That feeling of hatred for the status quo has to come from within ourselves. The need has to come from inside-out, not the other way.
Now I’m not saying that New Years resolutions are necessarily a bad thing. It’s always good to re-evaluate and re-define our goals. However, it is important to change the way we view New Year Resolutions.
Two questions I ask myself:
- What is holding me back from achieving my dream life? What in my life do I hate so much that I need to get rid of it now? Is it a lack of money? Is it extra body fat? Is it loneliness? Is it low social status?
- Why do I need to challenge the status quo? And why do I need to do this now?
Finding that sweet spot, where I know what I hate, and why I need to challenge that hatred is central to my ability to succeed with my goals. That is what will spur me to act. Drive me away from pain. Towards pleasure. Ultimately, that is what it all boils down to. Reducing my pain. And increasing my pleasure.
So, the key is to hate the status quo with all our heart. Hate it so badly, that not acting will only take me down the hole even further.
This is also called the leverage. A point in my life where I cannot stand the pain any further. Where the misery of my painful existence is unbearable making my goal the only option to survive.
But for the leverage, I would never push myself to climb out of the pit of agony.
Rather than rely on planetary movements, I turn to my hatred towards the status quo fuel my passion to succeed.