Groundhog Resolutions February 1st, 2009

New Year’s Day has become, for many, the day to begin a new life – this time, without cigarettes.  This time without donuts.   This time with a positive attitude, and gratitude, and pushups.   

Today is, as they say, the first day of the rest of your life, although – and here’s the problem – so is tomorrow.    Every day, every moment, is just another now.  Just like a movie screenplay we are always in the present tense.  And just as a screenplay can begin anywhere, so can we.  We know this.  

If every day were our last chance to make a change rather than our first, maybe the uniqueness of that situation would be a great motivator.  But knowing that every day offers the same opportunity as the next is not only a great inspiration, it is also a recipe for procrastination. 

For many people Groundhog Day is inspirational specifically because, by Phil’s example, our world can change when we change ourselves.  So why not, suggested my friend Al, move the day of resolutions from January first to February second? 

Not a bad idea.   By February second I imagine that most New Year’s resolutions have already been cast aside or lost most of their momentum.   2/2 is a good time to reconsider those 1/1 resolutions, catch the backslide, and recommit, perhaps this time with new purpose and groundhog-like resolve. 

On the other hand, why take a perfectly inspirational holiday and muck it up with external expectations, and maybe years of broken promises, shattered dreams, guilt and recrimination.  Kind of takes all the fun out of a goofy day with a sciaphobic rodent. 

Phil went through a lot of changes in the movie, each motivated by the last.   If he had watched the movie Groundhog Day on his first day of confinement in Punxsutawney, do you really believe he would have suddenly seen the light and jumped to the end?    If he had, would it have lasted?  The soil needs to be prepared before the seed will grow.  I know this because I studied biology. 

I think that watching the movie (or reading a great poem or hearing a great song) is a fine way to help prepare the soil.  And it might be just the thing to tip a person’s intentions into action.  I certainly have received lots of mail from people whose lives have changed as a result of seeing the movie.

Still, if the person weren’t ready to change, no number of February seconds would be enough to do the trick.  Committing yourself to a resolution by calendar date is probably about as effective as the anti-drug campaign “Just say no.”   

If you’d like resolution-making to be part of your Groundhog Day celebration, I think that’s great.  Go for it, and good luck.  I’m rooting for you.  Just remember – all of those “nows” and “first days” are always there, every day of your life.  The difference for everyone is not the “now”: it’s always the “you.” 

Happy Groundhog Day, everybody.


Comment by A Long
2009-02-02 17:14:12

In this uncertain age it’s comforting to be reminded that things can change for the better. That we can change for the better. Be it a day, be it a holiday, be it a movie–reminders of these potentials have never been needed more. Thanks for showing a way towards a better life.

Comment by Josh
2009-02-03 19:02:37

I guess what struck me about the post is the concept of “resolutions”, New Years/Groundhog Day/or other, and how everyone, including myself, really has the best intentions of making this the “best life ever” but finds reasons and excuses every day to procrastinate. I myself am a chronic procrastinator, and have found myself simply saying “ah, resolutions are dumb, but maybe I’ll make one tomorrow…”

Like I say, I really enjoyed the entry, but I wasn’t sure what you meant by the last line:

‘Just remember – all of those “nows” and “first days” are always there, every day of your life. The difference for everyone is not the “now”: it’s always the “you.” ‘

I mean, I get the gist of it, and maybe this is just too big of a question to be answered in an email by a total stranger, but in your opinion, how do you know what part’s of “you” to trust?

In the movie ‘Groundhog Day’, it would seem that Phil Conners gets a near infinity to figure himself out. Be it a curse or a blessing, the end result is he didn’t have to worry about the consequences of taking risk or acting on impulse. In the real world, we don’t get that “luxury”. I realize that this is yet another excuse that I and many others in the world use all the time, it’s the age old debate of “What if I fail” vs. “You’ll never know if you don’t try”. If it’s not obvious by now, I must admit, I’m one of those twisted souls stuck in the middle of the two.

In any case, just curious what your perspective is on the subject, and possibly what you’re “Aha!” moment in life was where you decided to take life beyond “Resolutions”.

Comment by danny
2009-02-03 19:18:52

For me it seems to be a lesson learned over and over. Nothing ever happens until you take that step, but like you I frequently hesitate or procrastinate, somehow waiting for the opportunity to present itself or the problem to settle itself rather than to do anything and risk pain, failure, or humiliation. In general I’m better at it than I used to be, but I can’t say I ever transformed into that fearless risk-taker, life-changer, self-developer.

Although there never was an aha moment, I will point out that screenwriting itself teaches me to move forward when every ounce of my being tells me to ponder longer, wait for the answer, wait for safer ground to just materialize. It is one area where I’ve had so much repetition of this experience that I recognize it and know that motion is the more productive choice.

I hope someone else weighs in on this discussion, particularly the decryption of the final line of the Groundhog Resolutions entry. What did I mean by “It’s always the ‘you’?”

Comment by Josh
2009-02-04 12:57:32

I see what your are saying about knowing when motion is the more productive choice. At times, it is obvious, such as leaving a burning building, but with experience, we learn situations that are the “burning building” equivilant and learn to act accordingly. For me, what is most difficult is lighting that fire under my butt in a proactive manner instead of reactive.

It is such a fine line between taking action for action sake, and taking action for forward movement.

As for your last line, I’ll tell you what it meant to me. To me, the moment or time in which you take action is irrelivant. Time is relative, and as such, has little meaning in the grand scheme of things. But the “you”, is always a constant, especially in your own life. When you make a resolution based on the moment, instead of based on the you, it’s bound to fail. When you find a way to commit a resolution to the heart, to move forward no matter what, that’s when it can become a reality.

Thanks for the reply, it was definitely insightful.

Comment by Sergey Moskalev
2009-02-04 03:54:12

Dear Danny, Happy Groundhog Day! Greetings from Russia, where last ten years established good yearly tradition to screen Groundhog Day in one ofthe central Russian TV Channels.

Comment by danny
2009-02-04 12:33:37

Just curious: what is translation of the title “Groundhog Day” in Russia?

Comment by Carlos
2009-06-23 23:43:46

Hello Danny and friends,
First I apologize for my written english. I’m from Peru and my main language is Spanish, so I’ll try my best.
I just saw the movie Groundhog Day several days ago, as a part of a project of an MBA course. We have to make an “intelligent comment” of the meaning of the movie. I found many subjects and topics where the movie has a particular meaning, but I’m focus in the meaning of knowing ourselves to be free.
I think you refered “its always the you” meaning that you make the now, you make your present day, you make your circunstances. Many people complain about the circuntances, included me, but we can make our own circuntances. Once we acknowledge our human nature, our true self, our path become clear, we are totally free, we have to make no more choices, just follow that path. Someone told me, “The real freedom is not to choose”. I think Phil recognize his trueself and follows his own path, his own reason to live, and achieve hapinness.

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