Or so the headlines scream from women’s and men’s magazines, online and off.
And of course, many of us consider our New Year’s Resolutions: setting goals for 2016 – sometimes realistic and achievable, sometimes not so much…
The start of a New Year does strike us as a time for reflection. The two-faced God Janus: Looking back and looking forward suggests to us that reflection and goal setting is something to do at this time and a few of our student bloggers have done just that.
However, I have to take issue with the assumptions behind the popular notion of ‘New Year, New You’. Actually, I can live with the ‘New Year’ part, it’s really the ‘New You’ which bothers me. And apparently I’m not alone. Basically the implication is that the ‘old (or current) you’ is not good enough, cannot be improved even, and therefore must be replaced with a completely different version of you.
But, when we dig to the bottom of the ‘magazine version’ of this sentiment, we find that really the ‘New You’ simply has to look better. Lose weight, buy new clothes, invest in new make-up, drink protein shakes and you can become a whole new person, and a better person at that.
Now, good critical thinking students at BSJ know that this ‘advertising’ version of self-improvement is a fallacy, because, how does weighing slightly less make a person a better person, never mind a new person? And, why do we all need to be new people, when there is nothing wrong with us in the first place?
Personally, to put it bluntly, I believe that chasing some new version of yourself and hoping that ‘fixing’ superficial elements will make you happy is a recipe for unhappiness actually.
Mr McClure gave a fantastic assembly this week where he explained just what leads to happiness. Two things. Service to others and continued self-improvement. But rather than self-improvement in superficial ways, happiness comes from self-improvement through continued learning, reflecting and adapting.
I don’t believe that a ‘new you’ is possible. Actually, I believe that the sooner you accept yourself for who you the sooner you can get on with that continued learning, and the sooner you can build relationships and improve the lives of those around you. The sooner you can be happier.
But I also believe that each of us is a ‘work in progress’, and I think that new colours, new textures and new techniques will enrich us throughout our lives. Will there be a day when that work is complete? I don’t believe so, but there will come a day when each of us has to put down the paintbrush and say ‘well, that’s that’.
So, the important question really is: what picture do you want to look at on that day? Celebrated works of art are praised for their depth rather than their superficiality and for their impact on others. What is your depth? What is your impact on others?
Don’t try to make a ‘new you’, you’re amazing as you are. Instead reflect on how you can improve yourself: not superficially, but deeply: how can you become a better communicator or thinker? How can you manage your time and emotional state better? How can you develop your ability to relate to and support others? How can you improve your research methods so as to be more effective and efficient? What significance for the world will your Extended Essay have? How can your CAS projects be more rewarding, both for you and everyone else involved?
This term in Core we continue to develop our Approaches to Learning, our ability to think critically in TOK and our impact on others in CAS. And we continue blogging. Remember to reflect through the blog: on CAS, on your learning, on your thinking. Putting your thoughts and ideas into writing and sharing them can be challenging, but can also have a huge impact on others and help you to become a more precise communicator.
Some students who have been putting their thoughts into words are our Year 12 bloggers. Hyo Jun has been quite prolific recently and is developing a good blogging style as he discusses the Extended Essay and that is our Post of the Week: being timely and reminding us of the importance of a good proposal.
Chris takes Comment of the Week with this gem: “I could die in 80 years, maybe I’ll die tomorrow, but as long as I know that I’ve pushed myself then I’ll be happy.” which I think exemplifies what I’ve tried to say in a metaphorical and long-winded way in this blog post.
Marcus met a friend of his dad who helped him reflect on the reasons for CAS, and then followed this up with a detailed, well thought out and engaging CAS audit. For these two posts he is our Blogger of the Week. Well done.
So bloggers? What’s next? What are you aiming to improve this year? Remember, if you share your targets, you become accountable for them, and you are more likely to achieve them. Looking forward to another term’s blogging!