Updated: December 30, 2013 8:38AM
Think quick: What are the first things that come to mind when you think back on 2013?
Miley Cyrus, Kanye West and Justin Bieber? Walter White, “Duck Dynasty” and Adam Levine? Paula Deen, Anthony Weiner and Rob Ford?
Or was it ObamaCare, Ted Cruz and the government shutdown? How about playing Candy Crush? Or Facebook? Or taking selfie after selfie on your smart phone? Maybe it was twerking, “Prancer-cise,” endless viral videos, singing “What Does the Fox Say?” or the “Real Housewives” of some distant city.
Regardless, let’s be honest by admitting we wasted a lot of our precious time on such time-sucking time-sucks. Call it escapism. Call it entertainment. Call it empty-calorie enjoyment. Or call it what it really is – a colossal waste of time – minutes, hours, days, even weeks.
Each year at this time, I take a glance back at how I spent my time over the previous 364 days. Did I choose wisely or poorly? Could I have done more productive, fulfilling or enjoyable things with that time? Did I waste time on people who don’t deserve it, endeavors that don’t warrant it, and so-called accomplishments that don’t merit it?
Now is the time to ponder such decisions, even if it’s cliché to do so.
There’s a term called a “shift-in-time perspective” that causes us to similarly pause and take a glance back at our life. This typically takes place during middle age, when we begin glancing back just as often as peeking ahead.
But before we jump ahead to the hope, hype and promise of 2014, let’s first take a glance back at this year. I don’t mean through the traditional newspaper format of remembering the “Top Stories of 2013” with updated summaries and outdated photos.
I mean looking back at our own stories and remembering the top memories, regrets or missed opportunities. Why should we waste a perfectly handy milestone to assess, or reassess, our personal lives.
For example, why blame Miley Cyrus for being a one-woman wrecking ball to our pop culture world when we’re the ones who seemingly can’t enough of her tongue-wagging antics. I say kudos to her for marketing herself so brilliantly, if not incessantly.
The blame is on us, not her.
The same goes for how we choose to spend our time each day. Do we waste it on things that do nothing to enrich our lives? Do we spend time as if we possess an endless supply of it, not a limited amount? Can we change our time-frittering habits?
In the end, it all comes down to habits and, as I’ve said before, we’re all habitual offenders. We are ruled, ruined, and rejuvenated by our habits – the good ones, the bad ones, and the repeatedly rationalized ones.
If we change our habits, we change our lifestyle. If we change our lifestyle, we change our identity. If we change our identity, we’re no longer the same person. The same rule applies to how we squander our time.
This year, instead of publicly announcing our New Year’s Resolutions, such as eating better, smoking less and exercising regularly, I suggest we privately reassess how we misuse our time. And, if you’re not happy how you spent your 8,760 hours in 2013, it’s the ideal time to change things for 2014.
New Year’s Eve traditions
Different cultures celebrate the incoming new year in different, albeit strange ways.
For instance: Spending the night in a cemetery in the company of dead loved ones in Chile; striking the walls with bread to ward off evil spirits in Ireland; throwing furniture out the window in South Africa; and jumping into a frozen lake while carrying a tree trunk in Russia.
Another tradition, including in this country (and this region) is firing celebratory gunshots into the air at midnight on New Year’s Day. But this ritual can have tragic consequences when those bullets return from the sky, sometimes harming or killing innocent revelers.
Studies show that bullets fall at a rate of 300 feet per second, but it takes a rate of only 200 feet per second to puncture the skin.
On Tuesday night, keep in mind this simple physics lesson: What goes up, must come down.
Back to our bulders
This week we’re supposed to mourn the passing of the blissful holiday season, where we happily created cheer, merriment and good will toward men.
We are now expected to re-embody Sisyphus – the Greek mythical servant condemned to an eternal, laborious task – and once again begin rolling our own figurative boulders up the mountain of drudgery.
However, many of us are quietly content to be done with the holidays and merriment. We also are quite content to be back at the bottom of our mountain with our oh-so-familiar boulders in tow. This says something about all those mundane, yet oddly reassuring routines in our daily orbits, even if we complain about them again by next week.
Did you know that giving up smoking can save an average of $2,000 a year? Or brewing your own coffee rather than buying one every day could save you another $1,000? And eating at home, skipping scratch-off lottery tickets, and using coupons can save you some serious money?
Here is a nifty website that lists 10 simple tips to help you stop wasting money and start building wealth in 2014: www.debtguru.com/finances/ten-money-saving-resolutions-for-a-wealthy-and-healthy-new-year.
Finally, I want to thank you for taking, ahem, the time during your hurried and harried lives this past year and beyond to read my columns. And also to those of you who offer your feedback, criticism or compliments of my work.
If my columns have made you mad, made you laugh, made you cry or made you think, then I feel I did my job. I’m very appreciative of our rather unique relationship and I hope it continues through 2014. Happy New Year everyone.
Connect with Jerry via email, at email@example.com, voice mail, at 713-7237, or Facebook, Twitter, and his blog, at jerrydavich.wordpress.com.