It’s a new year. By now you have heard it said or read it in a social media feed hundreds of times. The odd thing is that we don’t really know when we should stop saying it. Is it only good for a 24 hour period? Do we say it the entire first week of January or the entire month? Do we say it to everyone? What if they are not looking forward to a new year? Maybe most importantly, why do we make such a big deal about another day on the calendar?

We throw parties. Lots of people stay up later than normal to see the clock turn to the next day. We watch with anticipation as all kinds of things drop to the countdown of midnight. In New York City, a crystal ball drops. In St. Andrews, New Brunswick a red maple leaf is dropped. In St. George’s, Bermuda a paper-mache Bermuda onion covered in Christmas lights is dropped. In Sarasota, Florida a glowing pineapple is dropped at midnight. In my home state of North Carolina they drop things like a pickle in Mt Olive and an acorn in Raleigh. A lot of time, money and energy is expended making a big deal about a new year.

If we make such a big deal about it, there must be some significant benefits that go along with it. What are some advantages to a new year? What are some things we can take advantage of with a new year? There are only benefits if we take advantage of them. Here are a few things that can come with the new opportunities of a new year.

Energy and Excitement

There is plenty of energy and excitement surrounding all of the parties and festivities that take place for a new year . As a matter of fact, there is usually energy and excitement associated with most anything new. Opening a new business, buying and new house or car or having a new baby to name a few. “New” brings energy and excitement to our lives. There can also be a certain amount of nervousness associated with new things as well as the anticipation that comes along with exploration and new experiences. A new year gives us an opportunity to experience that excitement of walking into something that we have never been to before. Most of us could use a little more energy and excitement and a new year (and new things in general) can provide that for us.

Fresh Start

Every year has its challenges. Even our best years have things that did not go quite right or that we wished had been different. For some, things could have been a complete disaster. A “1-1” on the calendar will often signify a fresh start. It doesn’t mean there is not some lingering issues from previous struggles, it just signifies an opportunity to start again with new ideas and a new outlook. Much of life is about our mental outlook and how we respond to what happens. The flipping of the calendar can give us that refreshed mental outlook that is needed to meet lingering challenges and find the new successes that we hope to have in the coming year.

Stretches Us

“The good old days” and “when I was your age” are probably used way too much in our vocabulary. We think of days past with much more fondness than we did when we were living them. Part of the reason for that is we have had time for our minds to realize the bad things were not that bad and the good times were really what life is about. We don’t have the perspective of the days ahead. Change, even when it’s just a digit at the end of the date, stretches us and will keep us alive to experience many more of the good things that life has for us. Things that do not stretch eventually get brittle and crack. Things that do not grow will die. With new technologies and opportunities being introduced rapidly, a new year will present all of us with a chance to continue to be stretched and to grow.

I am not sure how you feel about a new year and all of the hubbub that surrounds it, but use it as an opportunity to improve your life. Find new excitement and energy to get the fresh start that you need and stretch yourself to create the life you desire. New is good!