Fresh starts. We all seek them, especially around new year’s. It’s now July, and some of us, steeling our nerves, will be revisiting those new year’s resolutions we made so fervently and passionately on 1 January. So how’re we doing on them?
If you’re like me, there are a few that we’re doing pretty well on (yay for us, we’re not totally hopeless!). And then the rest, staring back at us from the fresh journal page, intact. Alas, the strong intentions at the dawn of the new year have not translated into actual shape and form, six months later.
I’m convinced, after many, many years of this experience repeating itself that there is a fundamental flaw within the whole endeavor of self-improvement.
We want a Big Bang launch, announcing from the top of the roof to the world our incipient transformation. We wait for an occasion to embark on the project (New Year), bite off grandiose goals (what the heck), and, essentially, give ourselves a lustful high fed by our body’s happy hormones.
But, achieving those lofty goals requires daily effort, with infinitesimally small and unnoticeable gains. No glamour here, no one’s watching and applauding, no trumpets and horns to mark progress. Just me and my lonely self, getting up in the dark and going for a practice run while civilization slumbers in a cozy bed.
It’s inconsistent, this supercharged kick-off and the uninteresting subsequent path. I think that’s why most of us fail. We can’t always be on adrenaline. But coming down from that high is, well, just not as much fun. It’s boring to exercise day in and day out, avoid the fried snacks on every single occasion, write religiously, or meditate diligently. No novelty here, simply perseverance. No spotlights, just sweat, tears, protesting muscles.
It’s a conundrum, and I’m not sure it can be fixed. The only recourse is to recognize it, and maybe try to set smaller goals, fighting the superhuman feeling at the time that we are going to conquer the world so what’s signing up for one marathon (even though we don’t run). And, perhaps, giving more due to the daily task, appreciating it’s tremendous significance in taking us towards our goal. Maybe we need special occasion markers to celebrate mid-way progress, like “2 weeks-under-my-belt-of-no-desserts Party!” Or “I wrote 20 stories, let’s get drunk!” What’s required is to glamourise the slog; it’s such hard work, physically as well as mentally and emotionally, and we need to pat people on the back for the sheer tenacity of spirit that actually goes into just sticking with it.
Yes, that’s it. More credit must be given to those steps between the first one and the last, because without them, we’d only be staring at a page full of nicely scribbled megalomaniac promises. So, if you know someone that wanted to fit into college jeans, become a published author, or transform themselves in some way, take them out for a celebration today, no matter where they are on their goals. They’re somewhere further along than an intention, and that’s worth a few balloons and champagne.