Starting a New Habit in the New Year

The first thing to understand is that you will not succeed at starting a new habit. How many times have you started something positive at the beginning of the year that stuck? Just look at the data. You’ve been terrible at this.

You didn’t quit smoking, you’re still eating red meat, and you’re still paying for HBO in-between seasons of Game of Thrones.

This is ok.

Because this means there’s no pressure. The only streak you’re in danger of breaking is one of annual failure.

Good. What else?

Just start. Stop looking for the magic crank. There is no magic crank for doing whatever it is that you want to do. An entire internet of listicles can’t save you. So stop searching. Once you’re underway, it doesn’t hurt to look around for some advice … as long as you don’t stop doing whatever it is that you’re trying to do. Also, be wary of any listicle author that doesn’t have the words serial and entrepreneur somewhere in their bio.

Thirdly, remember that even a heroine addiction is difficult to start. It starts bit by bit. Even though there’s nothing more addictive than heroine, it takes heroine babysteps to get there.
So don’t try to jump right in. If you’re trying to start a workout routine, don’t start with goals. The fitness-industrial complex won’t agree with that assessment. They’ll want you to know whether you’re looking to bulk up or slim down or run a 5-k or get toned and whether or not you are getting enough sleep. Next thing you know, you’ll be building a diet plan spreadsheet and doing handstands on some half-ball thing while a personal trainer looks on. For about two weeks.

Then you’ll stop. Because you put the habit horse before the habit cart.

Before you can run 5k for charity, develop a sweet 6-pack, or just get a little toned, you have to get to the gym. That’s the habit to start with. Just go. Don’t worry so much about what you are going to do when you get there. That’s not the hard part. The hard part is going, then going again, and then continuing to go.

Even if you’re just going and walking on the treadmill. Just go.

You’ll know when you’ve gone enough when some event gets in the way of your routine and you get mad.

Anyways. The point is that I got a Playstation 4 for Christmas and I need to start using it.

Making the Most of 2017 and Life Before the Death Camps

So here we are. 2016 has come and gone. Anyone who didn’t lose a personal hero was at least pants’d and probably hacked by Russians.


Despite the bleak future we’ve been sentenced to, this time of year naturally lends itself to reflecting on the past and coming year. After all, making this a more productive year means setting realistic goals, establishing new habits, and establishing a mindfulness practice in case we survive the initial blasts and are left to rot in radioactive death camps.

In The Valley, we call it #yearhacking. VCs are racing each other to find the next great #year-nnovation.

As for me…

1. Less Social Media and no visits from actual storm troopers.

Less social media. It’s too distracting. It’s been shown to decrease attention span. And Twitter has devolved into racist eggs yelling at celebrities. In fact, I may do some social media pruning before Sysymos is setup at Death Squad HQ.

Death Squad Tip: They are unlikely to be names something so direct. They’ll be called something more bureaucratic sounding, like the Department of Existential Reassignment.

Did you hear about Steve?


He was reassigned the other day.

whispering Of course I heard about Steve now shut up before your kids grow up without a father…

So, less social media this year.

2. More time for brain defragging

I listen to podcasts. All of them. And I’m very good at finding ways to listen to podcasts while I’m doing anything that isn’t writing or reading.

It’s great, because I learn things like the definition of wazzoo (the door to a root cellar).

But it’s bad, because I’m constantly filling my head with talking, and there’s never any time for thoughts to bubble up or get sorted out. There’s no boredom. There is only podcast.

So less constant input. More brain defragging.

3. Write More Down So My Sons Can Avenge Me.

There was a scene in The Walking Dead, where a character who has been killed off gives another character, who has also been killed off, a notebook. The second doomed character asks the first what he should do with it. And the generous (but soon to be eaten alive) giver tells him to “write everything down.”

It stuck with me because I think it’s great advice. When I’ve done it in the past, it’s felt great. It helps me not only look interesting because I have a notebook, but also to remember fleeting thoughts like “you don’t think Mater is funny? That’s why you lost.”

The difference between paper and digital notes feels like one of permanence. You can write any bullshit down in a notes app, but then you’ll have to figure out how to organize it.

That same nonsense written on paper can be ignored without any sorting or tagging.

But if you write it down and then it sparks something later, it was worth it.

And you do want your son to have clues to the location of the castle where Nazi’s have you held captive? Don’t you?