Early Bird

It can be hard to develop a morning routine. I’ve read a lot about people who devote the early morning hours to meditating, writing, exercising, reading, or merely embracing the rare peace and quiet that prevails before sunrise.

I’ve never been one of these people. As much as I’d like to harness the power of the early bird, waking before dawn is not something that comes naturally.

It’s something I’d like to experiment with in the coming year, tempted by all of the widely-documented benefits. But as resolution season approaches, I’m reminded of our tireless drive to improve and become better versions of ourselves, without giving enough consideration to who we once were, and who we are now.

Like upgrading our gadgets to the latest versions, we can easily become caught in a cycle of tweaking different aspects of our lives in order to increase our happiness, our success, our longevity, and our self-esteem.

But what we fail to recognize is how often these tweaks leave us wanting more, just as we’re left longing when our phone suddenly seems outdated.

As much time as we spend resolving to change our habits, or measuring ourselves against the past year’s achievements, shouldn’t we also devote time to examining what’s already working in our lives, and contributing to our overall happiness?

It’s natural to dismiss our accomplishments once we’ve reached them, because we’re already striving toward the next. The new becomes old, and the old becomes extinct. But if we took time to look at what we’ve achieved, without rushing to improve upon it, we would likely find greater contentment in the present.

Achieving one goal, be it at work, at home, in a relationship, or in your community, is not a shortcut to the good life, nor a cure for all that you’re currently struggling with. It’s merely one step, that can lead to feelings of joy and fulfillment, or emptiness and the desire for more.

Is where you are now where you thought you’d be 5 years ago? What about where you see yourself in the next 5? What about all the goals you reached along the way, that you humbly dismiss when you express discontent?

Few of the goals we set for ourselves are life-changing. Many of them (drink more water, connect with friends, take the stairs) are things we should be doing anyway, and boldly set out to improve upon. The little things we do each day add up, and we’re wise to track them, and build new habits. But before we embark on revising our lives, we owe it to ourselves to take inventory of how much we already have, and celebrate who we’ve already become.