I always get excited by a new year. Of course in many ways the turnover is arbitrary, and each new month, day, and moment is just as full of possibility as a new year, but something about January 1st makes that sensation of freedom and opportunity more palpable.
It is now the 30th of November, 2018, which means that 2019 is barely more than a month away. 2019: a year that humanity has never before seen. Anything could happen. Just consider how much has changed in the infinitesimal blip of planetary history that we call the last 200 years. Slavery, a system of subjugation accepted for thousands of years across a variety of cultures has been recognized as innately evil. Women won the right to vote and have a voice in government. Humans set foot on the Moon—the MOON!—and sent a man-made probe into interstellar space. In only the last 30 years, billions around the world have been connected to one another by revelations in digital technology, allowing unprecedented opportunities for cooperation, creativity, and education.
Of course, other things happened too. Over 100 million people were killed in war, utilizing weapons of previously unthinkable destructive power. We have lost 60% of all wildlife just since 1970. More than 80 percent of the world’s forests are gone. 150-200 species of plant, insect, bird, and mammal go extinct every single day, more than 1000 times the rate seen before the rise of human civilization. Our oceans are dying and our climate is destabilizing. Wealth is more concentrated in the top tier of society than ever before in human history, and the poor are often made victims of big business interests. And though our technological breakthroughs have made wonders possible that were previously only imagined in science fiction, their misuse has led to the loneliness, addiction, and isolation of millions by enabling unlimited access to easy pleasure and distraction—a tempting but deadly alternative to the comparatively drab challenges of daily life.
But we are still lucky. We cannot change the past nor predict the future with any certainty, but because we live, we have the opportunity to learn from the past, act differently in the present, and move toward the future we visualize. You may be telling yourself that you’re stuck, that you have been an addict too long to change your ways, that you’ll never get to experience the kind of life and relationships that you really want. Well, snap the hell out of it. If humanity as a collective can abolish slavery, send people into space, and roll around in self-driving cars, then we as individuals can damn well stop using porn and change our lives in any way we see fit.
And I’ll tell you something else. If you put this off till January 1st, rationalizing that you’ll turn over a new leaf come the New Year, odds are 99 to one that you’ll fail. If you want a porn-free life, if you want to recover from porn-induced sexual dysfunction, if you want to get your dignity, your sexuality, and control of your life back, then the time to start fighting like hell to get there is right now. January will be littered with the discarded commitments of those who want to play-pretend at improving their lives. Don’t be one of them. Start right now and make December the month in which you build the foundation for the New Year and the rest of your life.
I could now tell you how to do it. I could give you my “10 best tips for reaching 30 days” or my “13 steps to porn addiction recovery” or some other catchy collection of advice. But I won’t. All of that information is already out there, on my website, in my videos, in my book—but none of it will do you a damn bit of good until you cultivate a desperate hunger to change, an inviolable, implacable, indelible determination to build a better life. That is what this article is about. If you have that, then you’re ready to start right now with 100% commitment, and by the time 2019 hits you’ll be on the top of your game. If you don’t have it and you’ve been circling the drain, falling into the same self-destructive cycles for months or years, then you need to cultivate it ASAP.
And don’t write to me telling me how you can’t do it, how you’re disadvantaged because of X, Y, or Z, how you’ve wasted years and there’s no hope for you. You’re alive, aren’t you? If you write to me, I want to feel your determination infusing your every statement. It’s OK if you don’t know how yet, if you don’t have all the answers, if you’re lost and need some guidance; that I can help with. But you had better be ready to work, to sacrifice, to grow. Trust me, it is worth it. The rewards will far outstrip anything you have before experienced, but in order to get there, you must leave behind the instant-gratification mentality so pervasive in modern society. The rewards will not be immediate. Many of the actions you must take will thrust you into discomfort. You will suffer. You will want to surrender. But acting based on immediate pleasure is a loser’s game, the same game you have likely been playing for years. How has it worked out for you?
We must act with the long-game in mind. Think about what you really want to accomplish, to become. What do you need to do on a daily basis to get there? What do you need to do right now? Figure it out, then start. It doesn’t matter how it makes you feel in the moment. Sometimes it will feel good. That’s great, but I don’t care. Sometimes it will suck. That’s life, I still don’t care. You’re not doing these things to feel good right now, you’re doing them because you must, because this is who you must be and if you don’t do it then you’re lost. In the majority of the day, your feelings are not important. Consciously and mindfully take time to get in touch with your emotions: journal, walk and think, talk with a loved one, whatever works for you. Take that time to get clarity on your mission and goals. But afterward, you focus on the mission and give your feelings the middle finger if they try to distract you from that focus.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not expecting perfection. If you slip, fall, fail, it doesn’t mean that you have thrown away your dreams. The road to success is a comedy of errors. I expect you to make mistakes. I even expect you to change your goals as you progress and learn; we are not beholden to the dreams of our past selves. What I cannot abide is excuses, procrastination, and self-deprecation. Have you hit your rock bottom yet? If not, you can always go deeper into the pit. Your life is wide open to you, and no one can stop you from pursuing self-destruction. Or you can decide that enough is enough and get hungry. You want a relationship? You want a marriage, a family? You want your sexuality back? You want a successful career you can be proud of? You want friends who inspire you and surround you with love? You want to leave a meaningful legacy? Well, as far as anybody knows, this is the only life we get, and we’re not getting any younger. If you don’t take the helm of your life now, you risk falling forever deeper into the quicksand of habit, stagnation, and addiction. Every day from here on out that you do not act in accordance with your vision is another day walking dead through your own life.
Time to wake up.
Noah B.E. Church is a motivational speaker and author of Wack: Addicted to Internet Porn, an educational look at how Internet porn affects its users and a guide to recovery for those who want to quit. See Noah’s work at Addicted to InternetPorn.com. Contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.