It’s kind of crazy to think how recent December 2019 feels. Not that long ago, it seems, we were getting ready for what a new decade might bring us. It’s even crazier when the truth settles in: 2019 was THREE years ago. We are well into that decade.
And so much has changed. So much has happened. But at the same time, so little has changed. We’re still struggling with the same things. The aspirations we had back in 2019 — this was the year we were going to lose weight, start that big project, learn a new language, work on our temper — are still there, still waiting to be realized.
How much longer are we going to wait though? How much time are we going to let escape us? Hopefully not much longer.
The main thing is that we stop expecting this to simply happen. In one of the best passages in Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations (check out this awesome leatherbound edition), Marcus tells himself to stop hoping and “be his own savior while he can.” It’s great advice — advice we should follow this year.
And we do that by starting with some foundational habits and mindset shifts. Or at least, that’s what I am trying to focus on as I prepare for 2023.
The writer James Clear talks a lot about the idea of “atomic habits” (and has a really good book with the same title). An atomic habit is a small habit that makes an enormous difference in your life. He talks about how the British cycling team was completely turned around by focusing on 1% improvements in every area. That sounds small, but Clear emphasizes that repetitive actions accumulate and add up in a big way over time. Don’t promise yourself you’re going to read more; instead, commit to reading one page per day. Thinking big is great, but thinking small is easier. And easier is what we’re after when it comes to getting started. Because once you get started, you can build.
Lengthen Your Timeline
One of the most important habits, the habit that makes all other habits possible, is patience. This was one of the lessons taught to me through opening my bookstore, The Painted Porch (delayed a year by COVID). It always takes longer than you think it’s going to take. That’s Hofstadter’s law. And even when you take the law…