Every year as the clock strikes midnight on December 31st, amidst the champagne popping and confetti celebrations a sudden surge of nervousness can eclipse our moment of glee. January 1st is upon us – the day we promised ourselves we’d make a change. However, must we do so on that specific day? Is there something inherently special about January 1st? The date seems to have a monopoly on goal-making, but maybe it’s high time that changed.
For me, it was a crisp Thursday morning in March when I committed to making a change. January 1st had come and gone and to be honest, now three months into the New Year, a part of me simply wanted to wait until the following year to achieve this particular resolution. “I’m not ready,” I told myself. Yet, the truth was I would be no more ready the following January than I was that day in March. I was only making excuses, so I gave myself a pep talk and reframed my thinking. That day was as good as any to start. So, after years of saying I could never run a mile, I signed up for a half-marathon and spent the next five months slowly transforming my “cant’s” into “cans.” With each mile of pounded pavement, while forming blisters and straining muscles, I worked toward my goal. That August I crossed the finish line with a sense of intangible pride and accomplishment that only comes from knowing you’ve conquered a personal aspiration.
That’s why if you’re looking to make a change, tackle a goal or chase a dream, don’t wait for January 1st. Start tomorrow instead. Sure you may not feel ready or are unsure of where to start, but don’t let those fears hold you back. The truth is no one is ever perfectly prepared for anything in this life. All we can do is make the decision to start exactly where we are and take each day with stride.
Here are a few extra tips that can aid in achieving your goal:
Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. While a drastic change in lifestyle can seem daunting to tackle, small changes will add up. I didn’t go all out on the day I started marathon training and log 10 miles. I started with one mile and as my body adjusted, I began adding more. Apply this stair-step approach to your personal goals and slowly but surely, you’ll reach them.
Studies show that it takes 21 days for a habit to form. Once you determine what you’d like to change, dedicate yourself to honoring it for at least one month. The longer you practice the new behavior, the more it will become a routine and the easier it will be to maintain.
Avoid an “all-or-nothing” policy.
Let’s be honest, we’re human and slip-ups are bound to happen. It’s easy to allow one missed workout turn into five missed workouts or to slowly allow old habits to creep back into your daily routine. Don’t let these set-backs discourage you. Instead, commit yourself and remind yourself of that commitment every day. Change is a process, so extend yourself grace, pick up where you left off, and continue on your journey.
Find an accountability partner.
Sometimes accomplishing a goal is easier when you have someone to keep you accountable. Their involvement isn’t to point out your shortcomings when you experience a setback, but rather to serve as your personal cheerleader and encourager. We often use self-talk riddled with distortion and lies. Finding a friend or loved one that you trust and who can offer support can be crucial to your success.
Actor Hugh Laurie once said, in regards to the concept of being ready, “It’s a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you’re ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There is almost no such thing as ready. There is only now. And you may as well do it now. Generally speaking, now is as good a time as any.”
So whether it’s March 9th, July 17th or December 23rd, start! Promise yourself that you won’t wait until the New Year to fulfill that resolution. January 1st isn’t the first day of the rest of your life. That day is today, if you allow it to be.
Image via Noelle Johnson