We've all done it.
"I'll start tomorrow."
"Monday is a new week, so I'll start then."
"New Year, New Me!"
"Things are so stressful right now, I'll do that when life is less crazy."
"I'll start taking care of myself when this deadline at work is over."
I was really struck by this brilliantly concise sentence uttered by the fantastically smart Kelly McGonigal, behaviorial psychologist, author, and Stanford professor, when I heard her speak at the Equinox High-Performance Living Seminar I went to in November.
Life is always going to be crazy. And messy. There will always be more work deadlines and crises.
Kelly talked about how we all tend to fall into this trap of "future optimism" about ourselves. We think that who we are doesn't have the time and energy to attend to our goals now, but somehow our future selves will somehow have this magical amount of time, willpower, and energy to tackle our goals then.
We think and expect that perfect "future me" will just show up on its own.
This is the type of unrealistic optimism that allows us to make excuses for ourselves, and delay the kickoff to the game called life. Newton's first law states,
"An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force."
This is why I am an advocate for starting NOW. Not when you "feel ready." Because, let's face it, no one ever feels ready to jump off a cliff, take a leap of faith, or to take a chance where there's risk you might fail. But you simple have to do it, otherwise you'll never know what you're capable of.
Thinking of tackling a goal or starting something new?
Here are 4 reasons to start NOW:
1. Nothing changes unless you change it.
It's simple. Not easy. But simple.
It takes action to achieve change in your life. If you want to start eating healthier but don't know how, do something about it. Read up on healthy eating, and learn more. We live in an age where information is so accessible, it's a shame to not take advantage of it. After all, we can't solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
You don't have to be perfect to try, so don't be intimidated by feeling like you have to get things right on the first attempt. It's about learning from your mistakes, staying persistent, and getting better.
Mindset is also so important to change. It's like that saying: your mind is like a parachute- it only works when it's open. The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts.
2. None of us are getting any younger.
I know, ouch. It might sound harsh, but it's the truth.
If someone offered you the chance to live the life you've always dreamed of, I highly doubt you would say, "nah, but maybe in a few years when I'm ready." But that's exactly what we do by putting off things we want to do, by saying we will do it someday.
Life is short, and those of us lucky enough to have that gift of life for the foreseeable future shouldn't take that time for granted. Live the life you have always imagined, now.
Who you are today is who you'll be tomorrow.
3. Dreams take hard work and time.
I love the encouraging words of the phrase, "follow your dreams."
But so often people use those words as an excuse to not work for it, when in reality, following your dreams is nothing but work.
This might be a strange analogy, but let's think about marinading chicken. In order to get the most delicious and tender chicken, you have to give the marinade time to fully soak into the meat, then give it the appropriate time to cook at the right temperature. You can't just quickly force a marinade on the chicken and use extra high-heat to try to speed up the process- it doesn't turn out the way you wanted it to then. You'll get tough, chewy chicken that you wished you had prepped earlier to avoid a lackluster result.
4. Permanent results come from permanent changes
Slow, consistently steady wins the race over the intermittent, last-minute dash any day. Especially when it comes to health and fitness.
Fads and trends come and go, just like those 5 pounds you gain and lose from that juice cleanse (shudder). Move your body, lift weights, nourish your body with good food, and don't forget about your recovery (sleep) to reap the benefits of all that work.
And because you don't want to be this person a month before summer and regretting not being consistent with their workouts months before swimsuit season... well actually, please don't do this ever, unless you like whiplash.