Start in Front

Photo credit: Trey Ratcliff via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Trey Ratcliff

If you’re going for a new you for 2014, it’s too late.

It’s 7:59am on the west coast. With a fresh cup of coffee at arm’s reach (I’m at Starbucks), a quick text sent asking Tami if she wants a cup too, and my fingers typing away on this article, I’m honestly pretty happy with how my day, month and year have begun.

I’m also standing upright while I work (my new writing posture) and am completing Day One of my January writing challenge. I even took time before the coffee shop to fill my head with good ideas and pray.

With all these good habits rolling, I’m just a jog away from a new year’s day cliché.

And, it almost didn’t happen.

A little context

I was first up in my house this morning. Despite having ten warm bodies asleep at home (some of my son’s friends crashed after the ball dropped), I managed to slip out quietly and get my January 1st started the way I decided it would go, before I went to bed.

But, I really just got lucky.

What if my youngest had wandered in first with a bump on her elbow from falling out of bed? It’s not like that sort of thing happens all the time, but it has. What if my alarm clock failed? What if curiosity had caught me and I started with email instead of what I said I’d start with? What if, what if, what if? You get the point.

When unexpected interruptions to my method happen, my daily game plan get’s interrupted with it. It happens all the time. But not today… bullet dodged right?

What did happen – that could have had an even greater sabbotaging effect – took place when I was walking out of our bedroom. I found myself feeling all lovey dovey for Tami and glanced over at her while I was at the door.

Before you get concerned that this article is about to get racy, the affection I was feeling was less about me hoping to get some action and more about gratitude.

I am so thankful that Tami is supportive of this daily rhythm approach to my life and her kindness just hit me. Her willingness to take care of the household waking up most days is just amazing. She’s a remarkable person.

Anyway, when I had this mini-flood of good feelings well up, I noticed she was stirring just a bit and her eyes were beginning to open. I paused in my exit and went to her bedside to give a New Year kiss.

She received it, but I made the near fatal mistake of asking her if she was mad at me for getting up early and exiting, despite the fact that I told her my plans before we went to bed.

Sidenote about me: I have issues.

If you’re a newer reader, this might sound like an odd declaration but it’s an important thing to know if you’re going to show up here from time to time.

To the familiar, this is a profound statement of the obvious.

The reason I mention this here is if my past is an indicator, I have a tendency to do stupid things from time to time that get in my own way. This was one of them.

Any wannabe-Freud could tell you why: they’d likely say something about my obvious people pleasing tendencies that connect to my mom or my strivings for significance that connect to my dad… or something else. They’d probably be right too.

The psycho-insight wouldn’t mean much for this conversation though. What does matter is when my issues show, they often derail me. Can you relate?

Back to the story…

This is all backdrop to confess that when I asked Tami if she was mad, I really wasn’t asking for her sake.

It was more of a thinly veiled question about me. In fact, the more honest query would have been, “Regardless of how you feel about it, will my efforts in the next few hours tempt you to hold back on any of the other incredible things I get from you?”

Hi. My name is Dane and I’m a self-aholic.

The good news is she barely heard my question, or maybe it was just so familiar that she closed her eyes and nodded that all was well. That was her code for, “Do what you need to do, dude.

Did I mention how much I love her? That’s what my text was about. Asking if she wanted coffee wasn’t me being awesome. It was me saying thanks for her encouragement for me to be me, especially when it bugs her.

Here’s the thing

So, here I am feeling great about a solid start, right? What I’m more aware of though is how tomorrow (or some day soon after), circumstances won’t go my way.

Maybe Tami will wake up and get to have some issues of her own, and it’ll be my turn to let her do what she needs to do. Maybe I’ll get to cuddle with my daughter and her bruised elbow and daily method be damned.

But, what will it mean if I miss a day down the line? It will mean precisely what I decide it will mean. What I make up about missing a day really isn’t the point. Having a life is.

I’m not just committed to change. I’m committed to becoming something new.

New habits are useless anyway

What’s hilarious is just how useless new resolutions actually are. The only habits that really matter are the one’s that started weeks, months or years ago… the habits that I actually have today.

A great example of how big a deal this truth is, played out at a TED Conference a while back. Seth Godin (a particularly prolific author of best-sellers) was asked for advice by a first time author, on what they should do to have a successful book launch the following month.

Seth told him straight up, “You’re too late.” He should have asked his question a year earlier… or maybe two.

The good news

But what’s that poor author supposed to do with that?

If he’s wise, I think he takes it as the gift that it is and adjusts his expectations. Maybe he launches his book (now or later) but more importantly starts thinking immediately about how he wants his thing to end, not just begin.

It’s not that complicated. Everyone gets this when they slow down for a second.

In fact, just moments ago, the Barrista in front of me was asked by a patron what her new year’s resolution was for this year. She said she decided it was going to be the one she had last year… that she felt guilty about the year before… and wrote down the year before that.

She’s smart.

Making 2014 about anything other than what you’ll be telling yourself in 2015 is a sucker bet.

Want to make this year great? Be deliberate. Find your rhythm and method. Pause in the middle and be grateful for the interruptions. But, whatever you do, decide who you want to be a year from now and work backwards.

What actually happens will be way more interesting than wishful thinking.


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Dane Sanders
Dane Sanders

Your tenacity inspires me Serena. I have no doubt this will be a remarkable year for you friend.

Serena Bolton
Serena Bolton

I have found the concept of deciding who I want to be a year from now and to work backwards thought provoking, resourceful and inspiring. Your blog post has also made me question what I am committed to this year and in order to tell the story I would hope to next year I can see that putting effective systems and routines in place will help me achieve my goals. And you never know miracles could happen and I may even develop a new habit and become an early bird! Thank you for sharing and what a wonderful lady you have in your life.

Kelly Grace
Kelly Grace

This is a gem from the good folks at Lifehacker. Gina Trapani is the first person I read about who uses a stand-up desk. Lael says they're everywhere at Apple now. Dan Pink had a post called, "Is sitting the new smoking?" Standing to work and planning your day the night before, you're so ahead of the curve.

Dane Sanders
Dane Sanders

Amen to that Derek! I have no idea how good I have it.

Derek Sanders
Derek Sanders

Hey Dane, Really enjoyed your January 1st functional self-aholic therapy - was therapeutic for me as well ). I found the freudian Mum / Dad content particularly on the mark! There's no doubt that the spontaneous and unexpected interruptions is the having a life bit - I certainly didn't plan on reading and responding to your blog at 5am Czech time, but am very happy that I am ). You and your children are extremely fortunate to have Tami - in addition to all of the other amazing things that she is and does, she is absolutely fundamental to your ability to do what you do, and together the two of you enrich lots of other people's lives. Three Cheers for Tami!!!

Dane Sanders
Dane Sanders

I can't wait either Jeni. My favorite goals are the collaborative ones! If you think about it, GO is exactly the kind of thing we're talking about here. It doesn't just happen. It's been building now for probably 4+ years. That's part of why it's so special.


I'm so glad to read your thoughts on this today. It helps me understand that big plans take time to build into what we dream of or into something even better, we never expected. Hearing your explanation of setting a goal a year or 2 in advance makes sense...and helps me as I'm getting ready to plan for my new year (or 2 or 3). Thank you for being the one who taught me the importance of slowing down and noticing when it's needed. Can't wait for GO Summit to get here!!

Dane Sanders
Dane Sanders

Thanks Kelly. Showing up prepared with a plan seems to increase my chances by about 90% LOL.

Kelly Grace
Kelly Grace

The backstory is always illuminating. Thanks for including it. You had a plan. That increases the odds of success by 50%. Controlling our impulses and our self-defeating tendencies takes mindfulness and focus. It's not the real interruptions that diminish our progress, it's the mindlessness we allow to consume the minutes and hours of the day that take a toll. "You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you." James Allen


This article reminds me of what Canadian Astronaut, Chris Hadfield has always told my students and me - along with anyone else who'll listen - "Decide what it is you want to become and take steps every day to start turning your self into that person." Dane - you would love this guy. Go meet him if you ever get the chance. He was 8 years old when he watched Buzz and Neil set foot on the moon and decided right then he wanted to be "that"! follow Chris on Twitter: @cmdr_hadfield


Angel! So did it help? How??


I spent a great deal of time today wondering what you'd be saying to me, on the other side of that computer screen, as I explained my latest dilemma :-) Great post