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Please Don't Let This Be Another Groundhog Year

My New Year’s Eve was quiet, as usual (I don’t like big celebrations). I ended up flipping through YouTube and randomly found the movie “Groundhog Day” starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. I’ve seen this flick several times before, but there was something that made me watch it with another perspective.

If you’re not familiar with the movie, it’s about the obnoxious Pittsburgh TV weatherman Phil Connors (Bill Murray) who is assigned to cover the Groundhog Day festivities in small-town Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. He grudgingly does his on-air spot and sets off on the return trip to Pittsburgh but has to turn back because of a snowstorm. Forced to stay in the small town for another night, he wakes up the next morning realizing to his horror that he has to relive Groundhog Day again, and again the next day and the day after that. Stuck in this time loop, he realizes that he is powerless to change the situation and sinks into a depression until something clicks and he decides to start living positively. Even that doesn’t break the time loop, until…well, you’ll have to see the movie to find out how it ends.

There was one point in the movie where I was sure that once Phil Connors “got the girl” then he would snap out of the time loop, but I realized it was only half-way through the movie. Then it came to me: this movie was calling me to snap out of my own “Groundhog Year”.

2009 was a good year, in that I’m grateful for all the new experiences, the new contacts, and the new skills that I gained. But, to be honest, despite all of the big plans I had back in January 2009, I did not achieve the quantum leap forward in my business that I’ve been wanting for the last couple of years. My business project is stuck in a Groundhog Loop.

Once the movie finished, I sat there staring at the screen for a while, thinking about what are the lessons I could apply to ensure that 2010 is not another Groundhog Year?

Do one thing different today: Phil Connors came to believe that whatever he did had no consequences. After sinking into a depressive state and trying to kill himself by different means, he still woke up with the 6:00 AM radio alarm with nothing changed. It was when he started to realize that by doing one thing different that day, in a positive way, he could make the experience of being in the time loop more pleasant for him, even if the environment around him did not change and nobody remembered. So for me, I must identify – and do – one thing different today so that I can make my day more pleasant and productive.

Be patient: Even by making positive changes in his actions and his attitude, Phil Connors was still in the time loop for a long, long time. It’s the same with New Year’s Resolutions. The actions I take now will probably not make a difference for many days, weeks or months. But if I really want to be in a different situation one year from today, I must start now.

Change for the right reasons: At first Phil Connors focused all his efforts on trying to “get the girl”, thinking that might be the way to create his “perfect day”. But it was only when he started to change for the “right reasons” that he created the movement that eventually broke through the time loop. Are my goals for the New Year focused on the right results that will get me out of my own Groundhog Loop?

Waking up this January 1 2010, nothing outside of me has changed significantly. I have the same surroundings, the same people, the same bank account, the same to-do list as on December 31, 2009. But I have the power to break the Groundhog Loop by the positive steps I choose to make, starting today, to make this my Best Year Ever.

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