When I was ten- years-old my parents bought me an Atari Video Game system. I loved that thing. I was only allowed to play with it on weekends and holidays (so it didn’t interfere with my school work) and I looked forward to getting a new game each week and mastering it.
Of course, the first time I played a new game I would struggle miserably. I’d fail repeatedly but I never got frustrated.
Because on the far-right side of the game console was a lever I could push to reset the game and start over. If the game gave me three attempts at something and I was in a bad position, I’d reach for the lever and start again.
A fresh start was always within reach and that gave me comfort.
When the calendar moves from December to January you examine your progress and make changes. You want your future to be better than your past. You make lists. These lists include things you are going to start and they include things you are going to stop.
The New Year’s zeal begins to fade about a week into January. That’s when you get back to work. That’s when the kid’s go back to school. It’s when the snowfall from the “White Christmas” begins to take on the gray sludge-like shade you know will be with you through March.
The change you wanted – the change that seemed so attainable in your mind – now seems so far off in the distance, you are hardly able to muster the energy to take the first step.
Enthusiasm gives way to your old routine and that leads to melancholy.
But it doesn’t have to.
You don’t have to wait for the calendar page to flip to start something new. You can push a “reset button anytime.
Today, right now, you can start over. And if you are unhappy with the actions you’ve taken today, you can hit the reset button and start over tomorrow.
It is that simple.
If you are hesitant to start over, or if this feels uncomfortable, think about these things when preparing to start something new (a weight loss and fitness program, a new business growth plan, an attempt at acquiring new skills and knowledge):
Failure Does Not Exist: Whenever you start something new, you struggle. That is part of the learning process. If you learn, you are not failing, you are growing. In fact, the process of making mistakes is essential for growth. Do not fear failure, embrace it.
Ignore Comparison with Everyone Else: You are in a class by yourself. Do not compare yourself to anyone else. Focus on what you want to accomplish right now. Comparisons lead to frustration, and frustration leads to complacency.
You see evidence of this in the world around you every day.
This past weekend my son, Nick, played in a baseball tournament for the first time (he has played recreational baseball for a year but tournament play requires a higher level of skill). Nick’s teammates’ play in the field far exceeds his ability at this point in his baseball career. They are more agile, have better situational awareness, and better command of the tools of the trade.
Nick played every inning of the tournament and gained extraordinary experience. He made many mistakes but also made a couple of successful plays. At bedtime, last night, we took stock of his performance and focused on how he had grown as a player in the past few months. There was no talk of his play compared to the other kids. That would have only served to demotivate him (and me). We agreed we were pleased with his growth.
This morning he enthusiastically announced he was looking forward to the new season.
Review your own progress and never compare yourself to others.
Enjoy the Process: You must find a way to appreciate the growth activity itself. Look for the positive feelings that come from any small success and celebrate.
If you start a fitness program and your muscles ache, recognize pain and soreness as a temporary feeling indicating progress. (Muscle soreness dissipates as your body begins to adjust to the new stress and recovers more quickly.) Appreciate these signs of progress as precursors to success and you’ll have a more enjoyable journey.
Your life is a gaming console just like my Atari. You have an opportunity to insert a new game anytime and, if you want to start over, just hit that reset button.
No calendar, no person, no situation, should hold you back.
Start over right now and enjoy the results…but more importantly…enjoy the growth opportunity each new day presents.