Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Today is the last day of the year so a good day to talk about resolutions. I've been thinking about change a lot recently and something I realized is how set we can become on even the most trivial things. For example, if you always eat cereal for breakfast it can feel heretical to do anything else; however, upon further reflection you may realize that there is no compelling reason to only eat cereal.

Or there is a compelling reason, rather: habit. Compelling, maybe, but not justified. And I think this propensity comes from the structure of the brain, because as you do a certain task over and over, your brain builds new neural pathways that enable you to continue to do that same activity. So changing those pathways, rebuilding, renewing them takes deliberate, focused effort.

But we all have things about ourselves and our lives that we'd like to retool, big and small. But if change is so hard what is the biggest chance of success?

Change in the smallest possible way

If you want to start lifting weights but are afraid of the effort or pain, then decide to do the simplest, shortest set of exercises that are still meaningful, and decide to do them once a week.

"But where is your sense of adventure?" you might be thinking. Such meager goals can seem a little cowardly, unless they are taken in the right context. That small step can be the first of a long series of goals that will eventually lead to greatness. Running three miles every day can lead to five which can lead to 10 and then 20. This in turn can be part of a plan to finish your first marathon, which in and of itself can be a preparation to a triathlon that is helping you get to an ultra-marathon in the mountains of Peru (I don't know if such a race exists but I hope it does. If not then maybe someday I can start it.)

Do you see how small decisions can form the foundations of grand, sweeping, majestic life plans? This is how they balance, the mundane and the magnificent. So that's my hope for each of you, that your life means something to you, that you are each pursing something important, something that matters.

Maybe someday?

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