We Begin Again
You always have two options.
You can push harder.
You can remove friction.
— Greg McKeown
We all know where we should push harder in our lives to reach personal goals. We also ought to think more about elimination. Shedding ourselves of artificial expectations and dreams that don’t resonate. Moving away from habits, tasks, people or careers that create tremendous friction in our path to a better life. Sometimes we can’t see the gaps because our way is jammed with trivial distractions. We must clear the gap to see how far we must leap.
So it is that we begin again, reconciling accumulation (bad habits, weight, things, acquaintances, etc.) and the gap between where we are and where we wish to be. This shouldn’t be a once-a-year exercise, it should be a daily reflection. We have our stack of days ahead of us, and the gift of each should be measured and contemplated just the same. But how?
Intentions are nothing, action is everything. Incremental improvement trumps grand plans, and each day, each bite or sip, each step, each page read, each meaningful conversation and each written word bring us closer to whatever compass heading we’ve set for ourselves. Alternatively, we can incrementally drift off course to a point where major changes are forced upon us. Don’t we owe it to ourselves to make the choice for ourselves instead of having it imposed on us?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
—Mary Oliver, The Summer Day
Mary Oliver’s words inspire bold dreams, and there’s nothing wrong with dreaming big. But to be attained we must break those dreams down into bite-sized habits. Today, like many of you, I will assess where things are, make a course adjustment and begin again. I won’t do this with bold, unattainable goals with unrealistic timeframes but with a few incremental changes I can track daily. I’ll take the shiny new calendar and map out the big trips and events that should be highlights for the year and identify time to add micro-adventures and brief flings with bolder living.
Sailors have their log book, and so too should we. Log each day and reflect on it. My personal favorite is the line per day journal, which boils down each day into whatever notable thing you choose to write down. I’ve been doing this for a few years now and strongly recommend it. In fact I just gave each of my kids a LEUCHTTURM1917 Some Lines A Day 5 Year Memory Notebook to begin this habit themselves, but you don’t have to spend much to seed a habit — a simple notebook will do. The point is to begin doing it and never break the streak. Magic ensues.
This year I’m doubling down on my line per day by adding a picture per day, using an iPhone and an album dedicated just to this. Combined, these habits should be fascinating for me (if perhaps exceedingly dull for the rest of the world). If nothing else, each forces us to add a spark to the moment at hand and wonder to our lives.
If we don’t step out on the dance floor we’ll forever be wallflowers. You know what’s more fun than stepping out onto the dance floor? Dancing to the dance floor. Remove friction, work hard on what matters most and track progress. Find your groove thing and let it loose. That, friends, will make the New Year meaningful in the end.
Happy New Year’s John.
Happy New Year Joe!