Fresh Starts vs. Momentum

Is a new year fresh start? Yes, but in exactly the same way that every other day of the year is a fresh start. In fact, it may be a worse time to start because it’s a holiday, and of course on holidays you’re supposed to eat too much, sleep too long, put work off, not workout, and take no action on your goals at all, even if you’ve been doing pretty much that exact protocol since Thanksgiving.

Take the hype out of January 1. There is no magic in that day that will help you commit to a habit. 

Starting is overrated in general. It’s emotionally charged and feels exciting, but since there’s nothing of substance in it, it’s no big deal to let yourself down. Momentum is where the power lies. It has substance, it’s a record of action, it’s the building of trust with yourself. Once you have it, you’ll do a lot more to not let yourself down.

I wish you well with whatever goal you pursue this year, but I also want you to know it doesn’t matter what date you start something as long as it’s today and not tomorrow.

A platitude before you go: The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is today.

Maintenance Is Everything

When a problem arises in your car, the sooner you take care of it the better. Delay can make things far worse. 

Maintenance makes things easier or prevents trouble, we know that. What we don’t always realize is that for some things, maintenance is everything. There are no moments where you can sit down and make everything right at once.

You can’t brush your teeth once a year for 2 hours and expect to maintain dental health. You can’t talk to a friend once every 3 months and expect to stay close. You can’t spend one weekend camping with your kids and expect to earn their trust. You can’t wait to pay off debt until you have the full amount needed in cash. You can’t lose all your weight in January.

Going into a new year is the time everyone focuses on what they want to accomplish, and that’s a good thing. Far better is to focus on the habits you can maintain that will bring you to your goals on autopilot.

Discipline Isn’t Complicated

Discipline might not be easy at first, but it is simple. Sometimes we lose it because we complicate it.

Discipline it nothing more than the art of following through on pre-planned action without any regard to how you feel or think about it right now. It’s the art of harshly interrupting that voice in your head that wants to reason it all out again.

“I know you planned to work on this project at 10, but you also need to pull those weeds. … Are you sure this is the right workout for you this morning? Won’t this be an active day anyway? … But it’s Friday, can’t you have a cheat meal tonight? … You’ve been great at saving your money, should you treat yourself to one new pair of shoes?”

Shout loudly over those questions in your head before they can even finish. Don’t let the argument start. It’s just like any other argument in that there is no winner.

Ignore your thoughts and push your body into the action you already committed to. Close your eyes and jump. That’s discipline.