It’s no secret that I’m not a huge fan of the flood of articles that sweep through at the end of the year to make sure we know to “STOP MAKING NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS!” Studies, statistics, smorgasbords of evidence that prove they’re ineffective get waved in our faces like flyers in front of a strip mall. Though I stopped making resolutions a while ago, I don’t believe the hype that making them is a terrible idea.
On one hand, it’s an understandable opinion to not set these goals in January. Measuring ourselves on what we’ve accomplished over the span of a year based on a list we came up with at the very beginning of it can be a daunting task. Think about it, how much do we change over the course of twelve months? Six months? Three months? Keep dwindling it down, and the question remains the same. We are constantly changing, and it seems unfair to make ourselves stick to an unwavering list made by our Past Selves.
On the other hand, what’s wrong with using January as your jumpstart? Yes, it’s the beginning of the year, but it’s also the beginning of a month, a week, a day! And who said a resolution for the New Year has to last all year? Take that pressure off. Have fun with it. Be kind to yourself, and don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for waiting until the ball drops and the confetti rains to start on your goals.
A JUMPING POINT IS A JUMPING POINT – PRESS START
Imagine that you’re on a journey that would take weeks to complete. There’s no doubt that the destination can be reached; however, it’s a given that a long road is ahead. So what do you do?
Decide it’s over before you begin? Hit the ground running until you collide with the target or burn out, whichever comes first? Making the choice to embark on a transformation does not mean that you have to do it all in one go. In fact, many lasting changes are ones that gradually evolve. Rest when necessary, get up, and start from where you stopped.
It doesn’t matter if it’s January 1st or March 22nd; all we have to do is begin to count the first success. The mistakes that may come along the way are not necessarily signs to stop going. We can learn from the little bumps, reroute the path, and still make it to the finish line. Consider each day a new beginning in pursuit of your goal. Each of those smaller launches presents an opportunity to get a little more creative with our approach to the big dream.
In the event that we do quit on a resolution, it doesn’t mean it can’t be tried again in the future. Just be careful of falling into the trap of starting then restarting, restarting, restarting, restarting — from Point A. It’s a very comfortable mental space, knowing that we can always come back for a do-over; however, don’t discredit progress you’ve already made. Work it into the process, and you’ve already given yourself a head-start.
GETTING PAST THE START-UP HICCUPS
I’ll be honest, this is where I tend to fumble. Because of that, this is where I focus a lot of my energy when it comes to starting new projects. It’s simple to find many an excuse as to why we can’t get rolling:
“The timing is wrong.”
“I can’t afford it.”
“I’m not in the right headspace.”
“It’s raining, there’s a half-moon, and my car needs an oil change.”
“I want a sandwich.”
Ranging from legitimate to laughable, anything that causes a drain on motivation or lets fear have major influence puts off possible forward motion. So, let’s cut that out.
Be specific about your goal and give yourself a date to begin. Not just any date. A firm, NO-NONSENSE, unchangeable date. Yeah, I know I alluded to flexibility earlier, but in this case, you kind of have to kick yourself in the ass if someone else hasn’t done it already. Set. A. Date. And. Commit. No take-backs!
Write the date down. Tell at least two people you trust about it so you aren’t the only one holding yourself accountable. Also, keep in mind:
THIS IS NOT A DEADLINE, IT’S A DIVING BOARD.
By now, you might have heard of Offcultured’s Swim Team Podcast, named so for the transition from dipping our toes into an idea, wading around the shallow end of our comfortable planning zones, and finally jumping fully into the pool. That pool can be anything from launching a website to becoming active on social media to shamelessly promoting our works.
But did you know the origin of The Swim Team was actual accountability meetings between friends? Yup. We talk about our dreams, goals, projects we’re working on, statuses of said projects, fears and doubts, and most importantly, we encourage, uplift, and celebrate each other’s accomplishments. Claire and Jazi were my two people when I was planning to relaunch a website a while ago. They knew the exact date I wanted to open it back up and would check in to see if I’d been taking steps toward doing so without judgment.
Once a start has been set for your goal and your BIG DATE comes, start from wherever you are. Meet yourself wherever you are. Seriously, wherever you are — even if it misses the mark of where you thought you’d be. If we’re already beating ourselves up from Day One, how can we fully embrace the excitement of the first step? Instead of worrying over what hasn’t been done, reframe the thoughts, and consider instead all that is possible to do.
- Instead of this: I want to be more organized, but I haven’t had the time to tidy up like I wanted to do, so I’m already starting with a mess… (I’ll leave the exact mess up to you to decide.)
Try this: I’ll start with the clean-up, and the second phase is maintenance.
- Instead of this: I want to spend more time outdoors, but I haven’t had time to find the time!
Try this: I’ll start with a few minutes a day, and see where I can fit a little more when possible.
- Instead of this: I want to start (insert skill here) again, but it’s been so long, I think I lost my touch.
Try this: I’ll start, no matter what. The sooner I begin, the sooner I’ll improve.
Remember when I said to be firm about your start date? That’s because we have to make time to introduce this new aspect of our lives to ourselves. This time belongs to what we’re looking to accomplish. Allow it the time. Allow yourself the time.
I can’t promise that it won’t be difficult. It’s normal to feel as if it’s impossible to fit into your life because it’s new. It wasn’t there before. (Or it was — a really, really, reeeally long time ago.) Bring it back, and continue to make space until it’s owning that little sweet spot in your schedule. That ease will come with time, but that time will never come if you don’t first get it off the ground.
Start at a pace where you are most comfortable.
It’s not as important how you begin, but that you begin at all.
Cover Image: Jamie Street