self portrait feet in Converse looking toward fields

Well, here we are. The end of a year, the beginning of the next. It has that same weird space-time oddness as graduation, called commencement at the end of a term…is it the end or just the beginning?

Well, both, of course. And with this particular revolve of the planet, we tend to load the change of calendar year up with plenty of baggage and expectation and guilt.

New Year’s resolutions become funny memes on social media, expectations of failure before spring, gym memberships and step-tracking bracelets and diet books collecting dust once real life sets in…but there truly is no reason to be resigned about that. Success is just as likely a conclusion, and it can, actually, be easy.

What else is easy? Trying something new. Not trying EVERYTHING new, or mandating that you fix every flaw in your world as you pin the 2015 calendar to your wall. Just a thing. A single choice this single day. A decision to procure a big bottle that you’ll fill with water and drain each day.  Or (not “and”) a category of food you’d like to have less of in your overall meal plan. Or (not “and”) the taking of the stairs or parking at the far end of the lot. Or (not “and”) saving a few extra bucks here and there that add up over time. Or, or, or…

We need to cut ourselves a little slack. A lot of slack, actually. Trying on a new choice takes some getting used to, but how dull if we didn’t keep on trying new things, new choices, new ways of being. It is how we define ourselves, and redefine ourselves, perpetually. It’s one of our very coolest skills, and it has nothing to do with January 1st any more than March 28th or July 16th or yesterday or next Tuesday. Reinventing every day is the juicy stuff in life.

So, sure, use New Year’s as a line of demarcation simply because it helps us keep track. It is a culturally agreed upon Red Letter Day. But keep taking stock. I do Birthday Commitments more than New Year’s Resolutions, but they are nothing more than simple, private promises, and not doing them how I might have originally intended is not “breaking” a promise or resolution…it’s just trying something new.

So get all Elsa about it, and Let It Go…breathe. Oooh—that’s a good one—breathing more deeply more often during my days. I’m going to try that one today.

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About The Author

Andrew Mersmann's picture

Andrew is the author of Frommer's global guide to volunteer vacations, "500 Places Where You Can Make a Difference" (Gold Medal Winner from Society of American Travel Writers: Best Guide Book 2010). He spent more than a decade on the editorial team of PASSPORT Magazine. He has volunteered and led teams on service projects around the world, and is honored to be on the boards of directors for the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation ( and Mentor Artists Playwrights Project ( Mersmann has been a featured speaker, interview guest, or moderator on several travel talks, from the New York Times Travel Show, Smithsonian Associates, and the 92nd Street Y-TriBeCa to Oprah and Friends, Animal House, and The Focus Group on satellite radio as well as on NY1 television. Past participant at the Clinton Global Initiative and judge for Condé Nast World Changers Conference, he blogs about volunteering and service travel at As part of the evox television team, he is dedicated to audience engagement, so if you're not engaged, he needs to be thumped on the head (gently)...or at least told (nicely). Twitter: /ChangeByDoing

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