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On January first, I decided to pull out a notebook and start writing. I’ve done morning pages on and off for years, and I had been doing them a little bit in 2013, but I don’t think I consciously set out to do them daily when I started.
Now that the year is almost over, I’ve only missed them twice: once when I was at an all-day conference and one day I just forgot.
With that in mind, here are some things I learned from writing morning pages almost every day for almost a year that I think could help you make changes in your life, too.
Don’t Build it Up
New Year’s resolutions have a lot of pressure built into them. You probably spend weeks leading up to January 1 thinking all about what you’re going to do differently in the new year, how you want to change or habits you want to improve.
And then you set out to make those changes starting on a day when you probably didn’t get enough sleep, maybe drank too much the night before and are probably surrounded by family, friends, football and other things that will keep you from wanting to do what you said you wanted to do in those days leading up to the first.
Which leads me to my second point: if you want to make a change or take steps toward a goal, you don’t have to wait until January first. It doesn’t have to be a new year, a new month or even a new week to get started.
What can you do today to help you meet that resolution or goal? If you can’t actually start today — and you may be able to — what step can you take today so you can start tomorrow? Do you need to run to the grocery store for some healthy snacks, or find your walking shoes? Do that.
It’s a Habit, Not a Choice
Somehow I didn’t have trouble getting back into morning pages (I also blogged every day in January, but that was harder) and I think that’s because I just made them a part of my routine. I don’t usually have the choice not to do them; they just get done.
It is admittedly harder to do that with some resolutions (I’m still not exercising regularly because it’s hard to do around the girl being home for holidays, running errands and other stuff), but there’s something to the idea that once you’ve started you just have to keep the chain unbroken.
Every Day is a New One
While not breaking the chain is the goal, it’s still true that every day you have a choice to start again. When I missed those days, I didn’t beat myself up about it, I just did the work the next day. When the girl goes back to school I’ll get back on the bike happily (and I am doing little things in the meantime, just not a full-scale workout).
Missing a day puts you back at zero if your resolution is to do x every day, but since we haven’t built it up to be a big thing, we know there’s no magic in January 1 and we can begin, and begin again, at any time.
What are you starting today?