Ring In The New

The calendar has flipped over to trigger the start of another brave new year. All around the world families have gathered, fireworks have filled the skies and Champagne corks have popped to ring out the old and ring in the new.

Now that the parties are mostly over, the decorations have been taken down and the hangover has finally faded, it follows that we look back and assess what we have achieved in the past twelve months. It is equally inevitable that we look forward to new prospects and see what we can improve upon in the coming year. It seems that no matter how satisfied we are with our lot, we cannot help but pull it apart to re-evaluate our actions, mull over our mistakes and often wish that we could turn back the clock to do it all again. Only better this time round, of course.

The seasonal switchover is only part of the story, of course. The mental effect of starting from scratch can be an attractive one, with the buzz of new opportunities and the idea that things might somehow be better this time round. We think the same every January, when the future looks so bright and we have the chance to make empty promises to ourselves. Personally, I am not into New Year’s resolutions. I do not want to set myself up for failure by saying that I will go to the gym more often, lose a little weight or see more of my family. It all starts with the best of intensions but, from experience, I know that it will not last. New priorities will come into play, gym attendance will revert to its sad minimum and I will be too busy to visit my family. It is a recognisable pattern that does not show sign of changing any time soon, no matter how many resolutions I make.

Do not get me wrong, I am all in favour of setting improvement targets and keeping track of personal progress, and I realign my business plan regularly. It is good to plan, keep your objectives in sight and have the will power to stick to a schedule. But for me, most New Year’s resolutions are doomed for failure. I guess that they work for some people but I prefer to follow my own path.

Everywhere we look we are compelled to rank the events of the past year before setting foot into the new one. Annual reviews have become commonplace in media and everyone seems compelled to compose their top ten lists of anything and everything. We love lists of all kinds, good and bad, and so the best and the worst of the year are catalogued in all their subjective glory. We all have our personal milestones for 2011 and it has been quite taxing for many of us. So much has happened that it would seem churlish to rank events that have shaken the world and how we see it: Economies of the world have been battered, tyrants have been toppled and their repressive regimes have been brought to their knees. Global confidence has been rocked and projections are that, in many respects, 2012 will be even more testing.

For Serbia, there will be decisions to be made that could affect the country long into the future. A general election is around the corner and Serbs should be encouraged to go to the polls to voice their opinion. The stakes are too high to just share them in cafes and at home. Added to that, a decision is expected on Serbia’s EU aspirations. These are just two milestones to be passed in the first few months of 2012, with plenty more in store, to be sure.

Maybe it is because I have already celebrated Christmas in Britain but, when I am in Serbia during January it can feel like a month in limbo. The international New Year has been marked, the Serbian Christmas and New Year bring together family and friends, and many of my friends celebrate Slava in January, too. It is a time of partying that delays the annual change-over for a few more weeks – and I am all in favour of that.

Here in London, the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Gamesare looming on the horizon. These sporting spectacles are shaping up to be memorable events, with world class venues ready and the capital getting a clean up in time for the opening ceremony. Athletes have been dreaming of this chance for years. On top of that, we will be celebrating the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, with big parties and parades across the country. These events will be the pinnacle of the year for many people and I am definitely up for it.

Coming back to the present and the storm that is lashing my windows, the promise of summer fun is a long way off. There is a lot to do before then and my thoughts are drawn back to clearing out the old to make way for the new. Whatever this year brings, we have to be ready for it. It is up to each of us to create an environment where opportunities can flourish and to make the best of our own future. Happy New Year.
Marcus Agar has been commissioned to write a series of observations for Wannabe Magazine. Click to read in Serbian or for an interview in English or Serbian.

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