Who doesn’t love a fresh start? A clean slate to do better than before. Another chance. A do-over, in a sense.
The start of a new year is probably the most recognized time for the fresh start/do better phenomenon. This is likely because we all experience it together. There is a general feel of newness on January 1st that is literally global.
We are currently on the brink of May. Some people will be sticking strong to their new years resolutions and other’s will have already flat lined (the later probably more common…). I myself walk the fence between both camps. This year I wanted to focus more on living a creative, authentic life, while not getting so caught up on the end goals or letting the result take precedence over the journey. Too often I forget that I am just human and slip ups are a part of the game. In the past, instead of making a mistake, recognizing it for what it was, and letting it be just that – a mistake that took me off path slightly – I would let it become something much bigger. I would let one single action alter days and days of progress and good behavior. Essentially, I would use my misstep as an excuse to let myself off of the hook completely.
I am slowly learning how detrimental this process is.
In the book Better Than Before, author Gretchen Rubin explains “the poetic justice of [a bad habit] is relentless and cruel, because the punishment for a bad habit is… the bad habit.”
For example, someone may think they were “bad” because they had one cookie. Now their diet is “ruined” and they should eat the entire box of cookies. How backwards is that?!
This is the reason I’ve (tried to) come to think of each new day as a new start. (It sounds like such a simple statement when I write it……) If I was too tired (or lazy or, whatever!) to write one day, I try to remember there is tomorrow. Tomorrow is a new start and I will start again then. There’s no need to wait until next Monday or the first of the month or next year, for an exaggerated example.
(Side note, this post piggybacks on my post Just Start, written almost a month ago to date. …clearly this is still a new way of doing things for me, that needs to be constantly reinforced!)
I started a new job on Monday. I also didn’t plan any workouts; usually the only way they actually get done! But, instead of “writing off” the week and not doing anything, I fit in a few walks and some simple strength training when I could. Was it an ideal week of working out? Certainly not, but it was better than not doing anything at all. It is powerful to pick consistency over perfection.
Having said that, mega fresh starts (like the beginning of a new year) are still powerful tools to use as well. It’s true that every day is a new beginning and, with it, comes the opportunity to do better. However, I don’t think the novelty of a big change – and the hope for newness that is tied to it – will ever wear off.
Starting a new job is a big change that can be used to get back into the swing of good habits. For example, this past week I’ve been explaining the ways of weekatarianism to new colleagues during lunch and it’s helped me remember how vital it is to reduce meat consumption for the well-being of earth. My new start has provided reinforcement and a clean slate to start again in my journey of vegetarianism during the week because, truth be told, since Disneyland, there have been a few burgers and steak burritos for Monday – Friday dinners.
I’m learning it’s really about using every tool you can in sticking to the habits that keep you healthy and, therefore happy. Don’t let yourself get stuck in arbitrary rules of self destruction. Understand that, when it comes to good habits, consistency will pay off long before perfection. So, go have a cookie and treat yourself to a walk after 🙂