I’ve never been a big fan of all the motivational quotes that get passed around Facebook and Twitter, but this time of year brings a bumper crop of them as people work on their New Year’s resolutions.
(Actually, I’ve never been a fan of New Year’s resolutions, either. My philosophy has always been, if you want to make a change, why wait on the calendar?)
So last week, as a public service to those striving for self-improvement, I posted this helpful compendium of advice on Facebook:
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Follow your heart.
Dance like nobody’s watching.
Happiness is a decision.
Hug your children.
Savor every moment.
Live for today.
Be the author of your life story.
Happiness is a journey, not a destination.
The mighty oak started as a humble acorn.
Don’t let the turkeys get you down.
Stars can’t shine without darkness.
Believe in yourself.
Stop comparing yourself to others.
Don’t let anyone dull your sparkle.
You only live once.
Never give up.
“I Can” is more important than IQ.
Go big or go home.
It takes more muscles to frown than to smile.
Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.
Ships in harbors are safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.
Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.
Three Little Words That Make All the Difference
I understand that giving up old habits is hard, and making a change and sticking to it takes a lot of discipline. But all this trafficking in trite aphorisms is, I think, a distraction from the real issue: the end goal of getting whatever it is accomplished.
So allow me to quote one very practical piece of wisdom: just do it.
Seriously, there are few things that can’t be achieved by just doing the necessary work.
Forget the Excuses
Studies show that almost 90% of all New Year’s resolutions fail. The common excuses that I often hear just don’t hold water:
- “I don’t know where to start.” There’s no shortage of how-tos on the Internet for practically anything you want to do: get fit, save money, eat healthier, quit smoking—whatever it is.
- “It’s too hard.” People tend to want the thing but loathe the process. They want to be an author but they don’t want to write, they want to be slim but they don’t want to eat right and exercise, they want to have more money but they don’t want to make sacrifices. If you commit to the goal, you have to commit to the work.
- “I don’t have time.” If it’s important, you’ll make the time. And if you choose not to make the time, it’s clearly not that important. So why beat yourself up over not achieving something you’re not even really committed to in the first place?
Resolve to Just Do It
Maybe “Just Do It” is as trite as all the other advice, but it’s worked for me countless times:
- When I have a tough writing assignment for a client that I don’t think I can crack, I just start writing.
- When I have a huge, complex task in front of me, I just start knocking little things off the checklist.
- When I know nothing about a subject, I just start researching.
With each little step that’s accomplished, my confidence builds. And so does the momentum. And before I know it, I’m done.
A year ago today I had no idea I’d write a new book in 2014. I didn’t even get the idea until almost half the year was over. But I started writing, chapter by chapter. I researched the process and contracted with experts in editing and design and technology, and in a few short weeks from now, the book will be done.
Seriously. Just do it.