With my birthday days away, I am reflecting again on how this next year could be different. I still have more than half my life left to live, if the life expectancy calculator is accurate. Still, with each birthday I feel the anxiety of wondering if I am living up to my potential. Have others my age accomplished more? (Certainly.) Am I using my time on earth wisely? (Sometimes.)

I have always used new beginnings, the start of a school or calendar year, a birthday or anniversary date, to make lists. Goals to accomplish, good habits to cultivate, unproductive practices to eliminate, projects to complete. Unfortunately, my lists are little more than good intentions. Often, I can’t wake up from my daydreams of a disciplined and directed life long enough to make that life happen.

When I am most frustrated by failed attempts to change, I am inspired by a song you may have never heard before: “New Year’s Day” by Carolyn Arends. It’s a long time favorite of mine, because its message is one that I can’t be reminded of often enough.

Every day is New Year’s Day
One more chance to start all over
One more chance to change and grow
One more chance to grab ahold of grace and never let it go.

Though I love the sentiment behind the song, I can only manage to maintain the focus of a New Year’s Day attitude for a few days at a time. Starting each day fresh is helpful practice; carrying an expectation of growth and change throughout each day is significantly harder. It is easier to run on well worn paths of old routines and habits, much more difficult to trailblaze through grass and weeds to clear a fresh one, one paved with new ways of thinking and behaving.

Despite the fact that self awareness and willingness to change are difficult, I have learned from experience that I need both if I want to be successful in life and leadership. I want to take a new route, even if it means bushwhacking one myself.

This post was originally published at Mountain State University Leadertalk and is republished here with permission.