Thursday, December 13, 2007

Welcome to the two most dangerous weeks.

Welcome to the two most dangerous weeks.

Have you ever quit?

Has their ever been some action or attitude or behavior you wanted to eliminate from your life? Or maybe it was a good habit you wanted to start doing. Some beneficial thing you wanted to tightly bind to your daily activities.

It doesn’t have to be monumental, like kicking heroin. It can be small, seemingly insignificant. Maybe you want to eat one cream cheese on your bagel in the morning instead of two. Maybe you’re going to join the gym and take off those pounds that an age-slowed metabolism has put on. Maybe you’ll quit smoking or start reading your bible every morning.

The action isn’t what matters, there are a million things it can be. What matters is if you ever actually do it. And if you’re at all like me, the one thing that really stands between you and achieving a goal is the start date.

When I decide to do something different, I almost never make the start date “Right Now.” For some reason right now just isn’t the right time. Take today for instance. Friday isn’t a great day to start something new. Monday is your best chance at a fresh start. And if at all possible, don’t begin on the second or third Monday in a month. For best results you need to start on the first of a month. And the truth is, there’s only one date that’s perfect for a new beginning –January 1st.

We’re a mere two weeks away from the greatest start date in the entire calendar year. And it’s exciting. When I go to the gym I can almost see the dozens of new people that will be there for a few weeks following the New Year. When I go to bookstores, rows and rows of magazines promise me better abs, whiter teeth and more fulfilling sex in 2008. There is a sense of momentum, as if the only thing holding us back is the date. And when it changes, so will we.

But when I set a start date, I traditionally tend to enter “last meal” mode. Like a prisoner right before execution eating a last meal, I start doing whatever activity I will be stopping before my official start date. If I’m trying to eat better starting on January 1, then December becomes a month full of Taco Bell. I eat horrible food knowing that soon I won’t be able to. Like a bear planning for a long winter of hibernation, I overdose on what I’m going to quit before I actually quit.

Ever done that? Maybe you’re doing that right now? This is the time of year to do it. Especially with the pressure of the holidays and end of year job reviews and parties and ex-boyfriends that don’t really care how your Christmas is. These are the two most dangerous weeks of the year, because the rules don’t apply. A clean slate has been penciled in for January 1. The new you is already on the docket, it’s time to let the old you eat a big meal, and maybe smoke one last cigarette before you put him up there on the firing range and say goodbye.

I’m not doing that this year. I’m not letting the calendar dictate who I am. I’m not waiting for January to set me free of me. I’m not putting my hope in 2008.

Today is the day I’ll be different. Today is the day I’ll give God the freedom to change me. Today is the day it changes.

Today is January 1.

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