Easing Into the New Year

If you’re reading this in real-time, we’re waking up to week 2 of the new year. Now, I love any excuse for a fresh start–be it January 1st, the start of a new quarter, the 1st of the month, Mondays, or even my 5:30 am alarm, lol. 

As my friend Ari used to say, it’s a brand new day, and we haven’t F’d it up yet! 

But of course, there is the temptation to launch into a new calendar year with all of our hopes and dreams ahead of us. We have burned our past year’s failures one by one–written on tiny pieces of paper and tossed into the NYE bonfire. 


Photo by Ashim D’Silva for Unsplash


And so we swear to run 5 miles every morning, eat all organic food, and have the perfect practice routine that will carry us to our big wins. 

And then we get tired somewhere around day 4. 

There is something to be said for easing into things bit by bit. I’m a big believer in the idea that before we can master a habit, we have to build a habit. 

So my “Run 5 miles every morning” has turned into “put your shoes on and go to the gym every day and move around.” I give myself permission to get off the treadmill after 10 minutes if I’m just not feelin’ it. (funny thing is, after going through all the effort it took to put the shoes on, I can’t be bothered to get off the treadmill, so I just run.)

And maybe “build the perfect practice routine” starts with “take the instrument out every day and play a bit. Maybe one day it’s a serious practice session, and the next day all you want to do is play a little Bach” take notice. Were they different times of day? Did you get different amounts of sleep? Were you more (or less?) distracted? 


Photo by Bruno Nascimento for Unplash


We can use this first month of the year to test the waters. This is a time in nature when most animals are cozied up in deep slumbers. They have zero intention of cracking open that  “New Year, New You” book until spring comes. I’m impressed that we are all awake and wearing actual clothes (I see you, Becky in your comfy sweats! You made a good effort though with that sweater.) Should we try to do a little bit better when it comes to building habits and meeting goals? Yes. But maybe you can stroll the organic produce aisle a few times before you toss out the entire contents of your fridge. Start with some broccoli. 


Here are a few things I do in order to ease into a new year while also establishing some new habits. 


1. Figure out the End-Game 

Ask yourself what the ultimate dream is for you in this area. Keyword: FOR YOU. I’m trying to run more. I have friends who do ultra-marathons. I have zero desire to ever do an ultra-marathon. No matter how great a runner I become, no matter how easy it feels, I have different things I’d rather do with my time. Hell, I don’t even (really) want to do a marathon. I just want to be able to run a 10K without killing myself. That’s my End-Game. 


2. Determine Your Starting Point

I’m not quite starting from the couch. I’ve been running on and off for most of my adult life–just never consistently enough to make much improvement. What about your practicing? Are you an “epic procrastinator”? Are you “pretty good, but would like to be more consistent”? Are you a “burnt-out over-practicer who wants to learn to ease up a bit”? 


Photo by Veri Ivanova for Unsplash


3. What do you KNOW you can do without any suffering? 

I can get up early. That’s easy for me. 5:30 am and I are very good friends. And I know that I can always, without fail, manage 30 minutes. I can’t yet run for that whole 30 minutes, but I can be on a treadmill for 30 minutes without getting cranky and wondering if I can go yet. Maybe you know that you can probably sit quietly in a room with your eyes closed for 10 minutes. It’s far from the hour-long meditation you’re after, but it’s a starting point that doesn’t pose any threat. 


4. Commit to less than that. 

Make it a no-brainer. Make it so easy it’s almost enjoyable. Make it so easy it’s silly to say you can’t. My rule? I have to do 10 minutes. (Spoiler alert: I have yet to leave after only 10 minutes). BUT I COULD IF I WANTED TO, and that’s what gets me out the door when I don’t feel like it. The 4 hours of practicing you need to do is a big emotional lift when you’re tired and stressed out. Tell yourself you only have to work and focus for 15 minutes? Easy. It gets the instrument out of the case. It gets you going. Before you know it, it’s been 2 hours. 


Photo by Isaac Smith for Unsplash


5. Track it

I’m going to do a longer post on the benefits of Tracking stats soon, but for now, I’ll just say this: Peter Drucker was right. “What gets measured, gets managed.” Tracking it keeps it on our radar screen, and as artists, we are naturally a little bit competitive–especially with ourselves–so the natural inclination is to want to improve the stats. Whether you do it on an app, in a bullet journal, or with a piece of graph paper taped to the wall, keep track of whatever data is going to be helpful to you. 


6. Repeat with any and all areas you’d like to improve. 



Again, if you’re reading this in real-time–or at any point in the month of January 2023, we are starting a new Thrive-Fest TODAY! Join us if you’d like to get multiple areas of your life organized, tidied up, and better managed. I’ll post a bite-sized task each day (M-F) that we’ll all do, and at the end of the 3 weeks you’ll find your home and your habits all gussied up. You’ll hit February 1st feeling like you are not merely surviving, but you are Thriving. 

It’s free to register, and you’ll find the daily prompts each morning over on the Tales From The Lane Facebook Group. You’ll get all of the (very simple and easy) instructions when you register. 



P.S. Interested in a 2nd weekly dose of creative motivation and inspiration? Grab a copy of my free workbook “10 Habits of Successful Artists” and/or sign up for my weekly Friday newsletter: The Weekend List. See you soon!


2 Comments on “Easing Into the New Year

  1. I completely agree with the idea that starting small is key to building habits. It’s important to figure out your end-game, determine your starting point, and commit to something that is easily achievable. By doing this, you’re setting yourself up for success and making it more likely that you’ll stick to your new habit. Starting with just a little bit of effort can often lead to much more than you initially thought possible.

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