I woke up this morning to a cat. On my head. Or, more accurately, a cat leaping with surprising force next to my head and then sprawling on my head. Not good. My mornings are important. They set the tone for the rest of the day. Being shocked into wakefulness as a feline-shaped asteroid tries to send me the way of the dinosaurs does not bode well for the day to come. (By the way, how is it possible for such a light and nimble animal to shake the bed so hard when he jumps on it? Evil must weigh more than I realize.)
As I said, I’m annoyed by this because the way I begin my day makes a huge difference. If I start off in lazy mode, pressing the snooze button fourteen times or maybe just sipping coffee and reading some light fiction all morning, I’ll stay in pretty much that same mode for the rest of the day. And there’s nothing wrong with that: some days call for large doses of laziness. But if I’m facing a day when I need to be really productive, I need to start differently, get the wheels turning early. And when I start the day with cat-on-head, I should avoid other living beings at least until after lunch.
Beginnings matter. They set the tone for what follows.
One of the biggest mistakes I made as a student, and one that I see students (and professors!) repeat every year, is not starting well. You may think that you can ease into things and not really get the ball rolling until a few weeks into the term. After all, professors aren’t usually mean enough to hit you with the tough stuff early. So you don’t need to hit your stride until late September at the earliest.
Bad move. You need to set the tone early. Patterns you establish in the first few weeks of the school year tend to stick around. Make those healthy ones, and you have a chance at a great year. Start badly and you’ll end up feeling like a cat jumped on your face at four in the morning. Trust me, that’s unpleasant.
So start strong. Set the tone from day one and allow that melody to carry you through the whole year.
You can do lots of things to start the year well–including the six resolutions we discussed earlier–but I’d like to focus in on a few that I think are particularly important. So for the next few days, we’re going to explore a variety of ways to start well. Stick with me and let me know what you think.
Tomorrow: Find Your Sweet Spot
[This post is part of our Back to School series, exploring a variety of things we can do to get the new school year started right. Follow along and let us know what you think.]