January always follows December.
Profound, huh? (I do try to give you your money’s worth, but it’s a free column.) You may find, though, that there’s more to that simple statement than first meets the eye. Personally, I’d go so far as to say that understanding it may a critical key to successful living.
Allow me to explain. December is often a month of indulging in sweets, over stuffing at family dinners, and grazing on goodies at work. But January always follows - a month of snug-fitting clothes, diets, and new gym memberships. December may be a month of carefree spending - of majoring in “buyology” for credit. If so, January will always follow - a month when the bills come due and we must live on peanut butter and crackers to to make the minimum payments.
But this isn’t just about two months of the year. It’s an ever-present principle. In every area of life, January always follows December. Tomorrow always delivers a consequence of today’s choice and action. The way the Bible puts it, “A man reaps what he sows” (Galatians 6:7). It’s a fact of life.
This can be great news! It means that we aren’t at the mercy of fate or luck. If we make good choices in December, we can be assured of good results in January. For those who keep that in mind, the holidays are a time of restraint and moderation. For them, clothes still fit comfortably in January and the gifts they gave are all paid for interest-free. For them, New Year’s Day dawns without hangovers or regrets. Knowing that January always follows December, they make decisions that make January a month to enjoy.
In every aspect of our lives, we benefit from remembering that a predictable outcome follows every action. Focusing on the desired future consequence helps us make the best choice in the present. Students who make better grades are those who remember that grades on next month’s progress report are being written by this month’s study. Spouses have happier marriages if they remember that the words spoken today impact the marriage tomorrow. The employees who receive raises and promotions are those who think ahead to performance evaluations when deciding how to work today.
Life is a series of choices and consequences. Whether this is good news to us depends on what we choose in December, because, without fail, January always follows December.