Simply Start

I love the beginning of a new year.  I know that the divide between years is an arbitrary construct people agreed on so we wouldn’t get confused, but still.  I always think of the end of the old year as a yellowed piece of paper full of scribbles finally being yanked off a tablet.  And underneath is the new year—a fresh, bright, clean page.

Which is part of my problem.

See, that bright, clean piece of paper, the new unsullied year ahead, if you will, just begs me to set goals.  Where do I want to be when this new page is full of scribbles and gets yanked off?  Where do I want to go this year?  In the next ten years?  What steps do I need to take to try to get there?

Setting goals is easy.  I’m hell on wheels at setting goals.  I can goal the heck out of a year.  Most of the time my goals have goals.  And sometimes those goals have baby goals.  If I’m not careful, every aspect of my life can have goals attached to it.  Goals are comforting.  Goals give structure.

Sorry.  I meant to say that goals give the illusion of structure.

Because, as we all know, a goal is really only good if you are working to reach it.

And therein lies the problem.  That whole pesky “reaching it” thing.

What happens to me, and I’m sure what happens to lots of other people, is I make all sorts of goals.  I see a picture in my mind of where I want to go with my life and who I want to be.  I look at everything I need to do to get there.  I carefully plan it all out, and then…nothing.  Because there’s just way too much to DO before I make any progress at all.  I’m not good enough!  I’m not smart enough!

In other words, I get overwhelmed.

And when I get overwhelmed, I freeze.

Ah, hello self-sabotage, my old friend.

If I feel—no, KNOW—that I can’t meet my objective anyway, whether the finish line is this year or ten years from now, what’s the point in trying?  So when my conscious mind says, “You have to do this!  You have goals!” my precious, beautiful, helpful, subconscious prompts me to take a nap instead.  Or eat incorrectly.  Or become obsessed with a new phone game.

Over the past week or so, I’ve been going through my annual battle, setting goals and objectives for all aspects of my life and feeling more and more overwhelmed and discouraged at the amount of work that needs to be done.

That means I’ve been doing a lot of napping and I got obsessed with a new phone game.

Then, last night, a new—dare I say, unusual—thought occurred to me.

“How about you just start?” the thought said.  Honestly, it sounded exasperated.

I blinked at my phone and sat up straighter in my recliner, startled by the uniqueness of this idea.

“What?” I gasped.

“Start,” the thought persisted.  “You know, just start.  Don’t think about starting.  Start.”

I thought about the thought for a moment.

“Doing what?”  I asked.

“Whatever.  Does it matter?  You know perfectly well what your objectives are.  Or you have a pretty good idea.  So do something to take a step towards them.  Start.  Somewhere.  Anywhere.”

“Huh,” I said, mulling it over.  “Start.  Stop trying to work it all out and just start.  Huh.”  I thought about the thought some more.  “I can probably do that.”

More thoughts came.

You want to be an author with a lot of books published?  Write the next chapter in the one you’re working on today.

You want to be healthy?  Don’t eat stupid today.

You want to hike the Appalachian Trail? Climb a mountain?  Visit all of the national parks?  Hit your Fitbit steps and exercise today.

You want a house that looks nice and cute? Do the dishes today.


Who knew it could be that simple?

Is taking a small step enough for me to meet my objectives?  No.  Of course not.  Hell, no.

But I’ll never meet my objectives if I don’t start.

Is simply starting enough?  No.  Of course not.  I have to keep going.

But I won’t keep going if I don’t start.

So I’m not going to write an obligatory post about goals this week.  Oh, I’m sure I’ll be sharing my goals as we go on, and whether or not I’m meeting them, but for this first post of 2020 I wanted to encourage myself—and you—to just start.  Start somewhere.  Start anywhere.  But just start.

After all, if you don’t start, you’ve already finished.





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