If at first you don't succeed, well there's always next year....
Published 02/01/2016 | 02:30
Thinking of the dangers of the new year's resolution, I'm reminded of Ellen DeGeneres's cautionary tale: "My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was 60. She's 97 now and we don't know where the hell she is."
You see, it's that time of year again, when we embrace foolish intentions that won't survive beyond next Wednesday. At least, that's the usual format in this house. Having woken up yesterday with a fuzzy head, blurred memory and thrashed credit card, that old familiar urge to change everything on January 1 probably made its annual appearance in a billion households across the globe.
"Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions," Mark Twain sagely observed. "Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual."
Forced to guess what most of us want at the start of any new year, I'd list four doomed aspirations - lose weight, secure a more rewarding job, ditch bad habits and find a more fulfilling relationship. The words might be different from place to place, but the desire is universal. Want a real laugh? Google 'new year resolutions'. You'll get 37, 200,000 answers in 0.46 seconds - it's almost enough to make you hit the snooze button and hide under the duvet again.
If you're one of the sell-out audience heading to see Tony Robbins next week, it's a fair guess you're hoping the experience will lead to discovering a more focused direction for your life.
As the keynote speaker at next week's Pendulum Summit in Dublin, Robbins arrives on his first ever visit to Ireland trailing a wave of global acclaim as one of the world's top self-empowerment gurus. A best-selling author, entrepreneur and philanthropist for decades, he clearly stands above the crowded self-help marketplace.
"Signing Tony Robbins was one of the greatest feats of my life," said Pendulum founder and ex-rugby legend Frankie Sheahan. "His delivery, content and passion are sensational and will absolutely blow your mind."
With book sales of well over 50 million, Robbins is the real deal, as his endorsements underline. "He has a great gift, the gift to inspire," says Bill Clinton, no stranger to that knack himself.
"His techniques and methods are based on solid scientific research and his results are lasting," says Deepak Chopra. As the motivator and confidante of Fortune 500 CEOs, as well as a regular guest at the White House, Robbins obviously brings more to the table than that perfect year-round tan and a set of capped teeth worth more than my mortgage.
"There are many people who live in what I call No-man's Land - a place where you're not really happy, but you're not unhappy enough to do anything about it. That's a dangerous place. It's a place where people numb themselves to their dreams and dismiss hope."
Such were his opening words at a Miami event I blagged my way into a few years back.
"Unfortunately, we're programmed to fear this thing called failure, so we try everything we can to avoid it - which is pointless. Fear is necessary for real learning to occur," he said.
In a convention centre packed with 6,000 people at $1,000 a head, it was the ultimate attention-getter - an emotion he effortlessly held for the next six hours. In front of a demographic that perfectly represented America - rich and poor, young and old, and across all racial divides - Robbins strutted and swayed his way to a sweat-drenched grand finale that had the power of a Cape Canaveral blast-off. In rock star terms, it was the love child of Mick Jagger and Tina Turner. I might not have agreed with everything the man said, but there was no denying I was in the minority on that score.
Living in troubled times where none of us are immune to financial catastrophe, social unrest and, more recently, the relentless and wicked power of Mother Nature, is it any wonder we might harken to the wisdom of modern soothsayers like Tony Robbins in this first week of 2016?
"Take care to get what you like in life or you will be forced to like what you get," George Bernard Shaw observed a century ago - expressing a sentiment that never gets old. Being brave enough to try new things is a challenge at any age - and all the harder in a world where choosing the right path is a pain shared equally between presidents and pedestrians.
"Your life is controlled by what you focus on, that's why you need to focus on where you want to go," says Robbins. "When you next find yourself in a state of uncertainty, resist your fear, shift your focus toward where you want to go and your actions will take you in that direction." You make it sound so easy, Tony, what with your private plane and God knows how many millions in the bank. But, for the week that's in it, I'll try, okay, I really will. And if it all goes pear-shaped, I'll know who to blame.
Happy New Year!