"You can do that! I am doing that!"

Happy New Year!  Yes, you read that correctly.  Happy New Year!  For me, the real new year begins over the course of several days at the end of August.  I suppose years of living under an academic year calendar can get pretty ingrained in your mental clock. Nine to ten months of hard work followed by approximately two months of slowing down, taking vacation, and planning for the year to come- this just makes sense to me.  After all, how does anyone have the energy to “begin anew” after the stress and busyness of the holidays?  Mistletoe! For many of us, Summer is our time to slow down, or at least make more of an effort to slow down.  Summer is our time to recharge before we get back into the full swing of things with Fall.  Summer ends with last minute trips to the pool, purchasing of school supplies, and preparing for new adventures.  Over the past few weeks, I have loved seeing pictures of my friends beginning their new years by sending children back to school or off to college.  Everyone seems to start these new years full of hope and anticipation of what is to come.  A new year is a good marker to start afresh, try some new things, and get rid of the old that is holding you back.

As I look ahead into my “new year,” a certain viral video of a speech given at Georgia Tech’s Freshman Convocation ceremony has completely captured my attention.  If you have not seen it, it is a must see.  People have labeled it as “Epic.”  In less than a week it received over two million hits on YouTube, and I think over a dozen of those probably came from my computer.  I cannot stop watching this video.  It makes me smile every time I see it, and I always let out a little chuckle at the end.  I have been trying to pinpoint what it is that strikes me so much about this young man’s speech.

First of all, you have to give the guy props- it is pretty incredible he had the nerve to do this.  Epic... indeed.   This sort of display falls under the same category of the nerdy guy getting the girl at the end of the movie.  It’s heartwarming to see the underdog do the unexpected.  Would we really care as much if this video came out of a notorious cool-guy-party-school?  Probably not.

Second, if you have watched it as many times as I have you might also have gotten a kick out of the older gentleman in the House of Lords type bib and robe sitting in the background.  He looks bored beyond his years at the beginning of the video and then he completely perks up when the young man goes for gold.  I imagine he’s thinking what the rest of us are thinking:  “Is this really happening?  This is awesome!”

And then third, I suppose my fascination is due in part to the fact that my own freshman welcome ceremony was so lackluster and the opposite of  “epic”.  The only thing I remember from that event was the student government president talking about the benefits of eating a bagel because it was time efficient food.  A crowd rousing, cheer inducing, stand-on-your-desk moment it wasn’t.

But let’s be honest, the reason the video has become so wildly popular and it is so appealing is because deep down inside, wouldn’t you love to have those guts?  Wouldn’t you love to actually follow through with the wild and bold idea you had in the middle of the night weeks or months ago?  Wouldn’t you love to start your new year off with a bang?  Wouldn’t you love to have the courage to face your fears and exclaim in a triumphant voice with 2001: A Space Odyssey theme music playing in the background “I am doing that!!”  That college sophomore taps into that part of us that we all long to unlock.  He taps into that part that wants to dive doubt-free into a new year or a new experience.  He speaks to that part of us that always wonders, “What if I did ______?  That would be crazy if I could actually do that!”

As you anticipate your new year (even if your year doesn’t start in September), what is the idea that has been floating in the back of your mind?  What is the idea that just won’t seem to go away?  What is it you want to try or change or begin anew?  What is the item on that grand to do list that you keep telling yourself, “Not this year, not now… maybe when I have more time, more money, etc.”  What is keeping you from training for the 5K or half marathon or full marathon?  What is keeping you from putting out your resume to some new companies?  What is keeping you from changing some relationship patterns in your life?  What will be your “Freshman Convocation speech” moment for 2013-2014?

To paraphrase my latest viral video obsession, if you want to start changing that bad habit in your life, this is your new year- you can do that!  If you want to try something new, this is your new year- you can do that!  If you want to throw off the bowlines and sail into the unknown, this is your new year- you can do that!

Welcome to the next season of your life!  You can do that!  I am doing that!

Have a great week and Happy New Year!