What if you didn’t need to wait until the start of a new year to initiate habits, to pursue a fresh goal, to set an intention?
What if you could make a change on any day? At any time? In any moment?
It was from Noah Kagan that I picked up the idea of setting a theme for the year ahead: like “curiosity”, “growth” or “adventure”.
My theme for 2022 is “Begin Again”. I first heard this phrase in Sam Harris’ guided meditations, and it simply means to start afresh, unburdened by whatever has already happened.
For example, in a meditation session that you feel isn’t going well, you can just choose to “begin again” as if nothing has happened. If you’ve been fidgety or lost in thought for the last five minutes, there’s no reason that should affect the next five minutes: instead of telling yourself a story about how you’re not in the right headspace and this is obviously doomed to be a bad session, just begin again.
You can apply the same concept to anything else in life. If you’re in the gym and realise you’ve just been going through the motions and not pushing yourself, you don’t need to berate yourself and vow to do better next time: begin again and do better now.
If a conversation is going badly – you’re arguing, or you feel like you’ve said something stupid, or just failing to find any depth or common ground – just begin again. You don’t need to tell the other person (although you could), but just forget everything that’s already happened and start afresh.
The point is that the past has gone, and there’s no reason why it should have any bearing on this moment now or the moments that are yet to come. You can decide to change in an instant…and why shouldn’t that instant be now?
I wish I’d had this focus last year. 2021 was tough, and somewhere around October I started telling myself the story that it was “a difficult year”. Because I blamed the year itself, I didn’t make any effort to change anything (including my attitude) – so, unsurprisingly, nothing changed. If I’d just decided to begin again as soon as I noticed things weren’t going well, I could’ve started feeling better months ago.
I’m aware of the irony of choosing the start of a new year to embrace the idea that you can change at any time. But it’s actually the perfect time. It’s reassuring to know that whatever goals you set for yourself, you don’t need to rely on staying motivated: if you falter at any point, you can just begin again.