Are you waiting for the perfect time to start something?
Exercising and eating right, a term paper, or starting a business. We often wait for the time to be right before fully committing. And when that perfect set of circumstances never materialize we have an excuse for not achieving everything that we are capable of. We can then set a new start date, slip back in to our old habits, but be content in our actions because;
“I’ll start on Monday”.
Why Monday? It is an arbitrary choice, just as the first of the month is, or the new year. We gravitate to those dates because they are times of transition, and change feel easier when attempted during a transition. But there is literally nothing that makes those days any different from today, in terms of forming a new habit.
To be clear – I am a big New Year’s goal setter. It is a convenient point that makes sense. But as I review my progress at the end of Q1 2017 I’ve found myself slipping in a few areas, and making promises to “start again on Monday”. This gives me the mental breathing room to let it all slide, guilt free, for the weekend. But because I am serious about my goals this bad habit needs to be recognized and dealt with.
Monday got its name in Roman times. It is derived from the Latin dis lunae, meaning “day of the moon”.1 And traditionally it wasn’t even the first day of the week. That honor was held by Sunday, and still is in the Greco-Roman calendar.
The calendar we are familiar with is the Gregorian calendar, named after Pope Gregory XIII who introduced it in 1582 as a refinement to the previously used Julian calendar. But even then it was not accepted throughout the world. Russia for example did not institute this calendar until 1917, and Greece was the last holdout; finally accepting the calendar in 1923. 2
So were all those Greeks and Russians starting their new exercise routines on Sunday while the rest of the world was waiting until Monday?
The trouble with Monday’s
By “starting Monday” you are transferring responsibility for change from your present self to your future self. And for some reason we tend to think that our future self is better than we are. He has more willpower, is more disciplined. And he will jump out of bed early on Monday morning to start that new habit.
But Monday is just like any other day. When it arrives, you’ll find yourself there – same as always. Unless you’ve implemented changes that will encourage this new habit then chances are that your present self won’t jump right out of bed and get after it.
Or perhaps you do, and it feels great! But then Tuesday rolls along. You are sore and tired. And if none of the underlying conditions for success have been implemented then you start to backslide. By Friday you decide to take a break and… “start again on Monday”.
Every day is Monday
To see results in any endeavor you only need one thing. Consistency.
Fall off for a day and before you realize it has turned into a week. We are allowed to fall off and to fail, but we need to get right back to it after we do. Not next Monday, not even tomorrow, but today. Because every day is the first Monday of the rest of your life, and if you treat it as such there will be nothing you can’t accomplish.
Don’t make the mistake however of thinking you have to do it all every day and be incredibly busy. That is a sure path to failure. Pick just one thing each day and focus on it. Get it done then relax a bit. Often times success is more about what you don’t do. It’s great if you got to the gym, but more important is that you don’t blow it by eating a box of donuts that night, or party so much that you can’t wake up and do it again the next day.
Don’t write cheques that your future self won’t be able to cash. Concentrate on today and make it happen for yourself. Treat each day like its Monday and your goals will be realized.
Do you have trouble with consistency, or making new habits stick? Are you putting off for tomorrow what you should be doing today? How do adjust your mindset to ensure success? I’d love to hear your thoughts.