I’ve been at it for a few weeks now, and it’s not new and fun anymore. In fact, it’s starting to feel suspiciously like work.
The honeymoon is over, and the slog has begun.
I welcome this change. Now is when it starts to count.
Starting Is Necessary but Not Sufficient
A lot of people start a lot of things, and since scarcity creates value, this means that simply starting things isn’t particularly valuable. There’s no shortage of it.
The gym is full on January 1st. Not so full on March 1st.
I want to be careful not to sell starting short, because it’s still necessary for success and it is something to be proud of. In some cases, just the act of starting can represent a huge personal victory. If you’ve been sedentary for ten years, going for that first jog is a big deal, and you should be proud of yourself. No doubt.
But starting isn’t enough.
The Excitement of Newness
Richard Feynman famously said, “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool.”
Nothing stays shiny, sparkly and new very long. Newness, by definition, always wears off. The problem is, we’re a little gullible. It’s really easy to get seduced into thinking that the next new thing we try (weightlifting, knitting, cooking) won’t include the part where it starts to not be fun anymore.
Anticipating the shift from new and exciting to routine is really important, because it forces us to make a plan, to deal with the inevitable.
Self-Congratulate When You Persevere
I think the post-honeymoon period is the truly satisfying part of any endeavor, because if you’re still doing it when it’s no longer easy, you get to really feel good about yourself. You get to self-congratulate.
And you don’t just get to: you have to. You better do it if you want to keep going. Pat yourself on the back.
Yes, pat yourself on the back. Turn your hand palm up, reach up past your shoulder, and gently touch the back of your shirt several times. That’s it.
Didn’t that feel good? That’s what we have to do, figuratively if not literally (I kind of like doing both).
So enjoy starting, and even celebrate a bit (or a lot, if starting was a big step). But know that the honeymoon is temporary, and be ready for the next stage. That’s when the real work (and the real accomplishment) begin.