Begin at the beginning.
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
There are probably thousands of quotes about starting now or not procrastinating. Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Lent seems like a great opportunity to do just that. Start. Get started. Do something. Anything. Don’t wait. You don’t need to be part of a religion that observes 40 days of commitment to commit to something.
January 1 has never been a day I liked to use as a starting point. I like to let the Christmas season linger a bit. Decorations are still up. If we’re lucky there are still cookies and fudge to be eaten. It’s dark and cold. Not a time I feel like starting. However, I did participate in the #mileaday running at least one mile a day between Black Friday and New Year’s Day. Knowing that I wouldn’t fell like doing a lot of anything between Christmas and New Year’s was a great motivator.
Having worked a school-year schedule for so long, my natural inclination is to use that as my Day 1 or jumping off point for new habits. New pencils and notebooks will do that for a person.
But beginning doesn’t have to start on a specific day or season. It doesn’t even have to start in the morning! In 2006 I realized that I had bought the largest size pants I could stand to buy. I knew I was a bit too round for my very small frame. I joined Weight Watchers. On a Wednesday. Not a Monday. Not a Sunday. But Wednesday. It’s my Day 1 for keeping my health as a focus. Monday’s are too hard, but Wednesday has worked out wonderfully. I have time to indulge a little over the weekend and still have two days before I weigh to get things back to normal.
The commitment you make doesn’t have to be as big as giving up meat or losing weight. Anything in your life that you want to be different can be changed starting today. Eat dinner with your family. Spend 10 minutes talking to your kids. Take the dog for a walk. Stop posting mean things on Facebook. The 40 days of Lent are a short enough time that it doesn’t seem overwhelming, but a long enough for a new habit to form.
This weekend, as I sat talking with my dear sister who is on the cusp of a major life change, I was thinking how proud I am that she has the guts to change her situation. I wasn’t thinking about the fact that she’s suffered for over 15 years. It would be easy for her to look at the past as time wasted. Or to think that it’s not worth the struggle that this change will be for her. But she’s not quite 33 years old. So young. Maybe you’re reading this and you’re 43, or 63, or even 83 and thinking that you’re not as young or that it’s too late for your change. But that’s not true at all. That’s the point of Lent. None of us is beyond change. Speaking kindly to your spouse is never a waste. Sitting and watching the sun rise, or taking a walk after dinner, or holding a door for someone is never a waste. Perhaps you want to complete a more concrete task. Start a blog, put photos in an album (heck, just getting the photos printed is half the battle!), clean out your spare room. What if today was Day 1? No shame about what state those things are in now. Just progress and no looking back?
Want to tackle clutter? Check out this post from White House Black Shutters.
Read more about #mileaday in Elise Blaha’s post here.