start now

The start of each new year brings with it talk of resolutions.  Living a healthier lifestyle often tops the list, which is why the health clubs and salad bars have been so busy recently.

Since we mark our lives by those individual years, it’s only natural to want to make them memorable and transformative.  “YOUR BEST YEAR YET,” a magazine screamed out at me in an airport store the other day.  I didn’t buy it, figuring that my list of things to make life better was long enough already — and neglected most of the time.

I read a fair amount of material that might loosely fall into the self-improvement category.  Some of it comes from my work in the investment world, where there is a subculture of people who write about making better decisions, at work and in life.  Then there are a number of other motivational and inspirational readings that come my way in the course of any given week.

With all that helpful input, why does it seem like I’m stuck on square one so often?

Elizabeth Gilbert once wrote, “I’ve never seen any life transformation that didn’t begin with the person in question finally getting tired of their own bullshit.”

Well, there is that.

In addition, like a lot of other people, I tend to wait for things to be just right before taking that first step.  The appropriate time.  The perfect situation.  The stars aligned.

Except then there’s a lot on the line, just like with those New Year’s resolutions.  When we’re finally ready, we have so much invested in our quest that things are bound to come up short of expectations, meaning we’re more likely to end up with feelings of guilt rather than a celebration of the grand accomplishments that we imagined.

Maybe it’s OK to keep dreaming audacious dreams, but in reality it’s the little habits we start building — even if don’t we feel like we’re ready — that have the power to make real change over time.  Often, though, even baby steps are hard to take.

We spend time wrestling with all the reasons not do something (and lugging around the baggage of the past).  A better idea would be to follow the advice of author Ijeoma Umebinyuo:  “Start now.  Start where you are.  Start with fear.  Start with pain.  Start with doubt.  Start with hands shaking.  Start with voice trembling but start.  Start and don’t stop.  Start where you are, with what you have.  Just . . . start.”

You don’t have to wait for the calendar to tell you it’s time to do so, you don’t have to worry that you didn’t do it when you should have X number of years ago or last month or yesterday, and you don’t need to do it flawlessly.  You can just start now.

Pardon me, while I go try it out myself.

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