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My habit guru (James Clear if you’re new here) has just hit me with another realization BOMB.

“Optimize for the starting line, NOT the finish line.”

As we’re still in the beginnings of the new year, the timing for this couldn’t have been more ideal.

He nails this because we are WAYYYYYY too focused on the result – even more so now during the time of resolutions (and subsequently failed resolutions).

What We Usually Do

Running a marathon.

An admirable health goal that will ultimately have a huge, positive impact on your overall health.

But here’s the rub: it’s result/finish line oriented.

At the end of the goal (the last day) is where you will have run the marathon. So success doesn’t happen until ALLLL that time, and ALLLL that effort and ALLLL the sacrifices have been made.

You don’t get an ounce of success until the final day when you run the marathon.

And this is usually how resolutions are set up as well.

The Starting Line

What if instead we switched it around and instead of having a goal to run a marathon, we instead had a goal to become a runner?

So on the very first day we go for a run…. SUCCESS!!

‘Cuz runners go run, right?

It doesn’t matter how far or how fast, but because you went for a run, today you were a runner.

Success from day one, from the start.

When you optimize the starting line as James Clear says, you’re doing the little things that will set you up for success from the beginning.

And that initial success not only builds confidence, but it initiates instant gratification and thus motivation to do it again tomorrow.

Where tomorrow you’ll go for a run again, because that’s what runners do.

Until eventually it becomes “I’m a runner so I’m going to run a marathon,” at which point you can get on a set training plan to run a marathon.

Why We Fail

We don’t mean to fail (obviously) but we often do when it comes to our health.

And the majority of the time it’s because we didn’t optimize the starting line.

We set big goals – changing our eating habits, going from working out zero days per week to five days per week, and quitting soda, and meditating, and, and, and…

Talk about setting ourselves up to fail?!

Even if we make two of those fantastic changes for our health, we’re still a failure because we only did half of what we said we were going to do.

We made two really difficult changes, but somehow still failed???

Is this beginning to add up how we’ve been going at this all wrong?

So when we optimize the starting line and set ourselves up for success, we can not only get to our goals, but we can become the healthy person we’ve been envisioning.

We can start small, to get small wins, to build the confidence and momentum we need to tackle slightly bigger endeavors. And the chain of wins and confidence building continues.

And as it continues, it adds up to huge results in your health so that instead of feeling like a failure you’ve crushed your goals and are figuring out what to tackle next. 

All because you optimized the starting line.