Years ago, I accidentally watched Oprah. (All of my Oprah viewings have been accidental.) On this particular show, a woman was talking about weight-loss. She said something that I still remember to this day: Whenever you plan a life change, your greatest enemy is the calendar. Why? Because once you have a starting date for change, you will forsake all moderation until that date. Think about it: how many times have you heard smokers saying that they were going to smoke themselves lightheaded until next week, because after that they will never smoke again? Or consider the person planning a new diet on Monday. What do you think their food consumption is like on Sunday? It's the Last Meal mentality-if you are going to take something pleasurable out of your life, then by God, you are going to gorge yourself sick on whatever your pleasure is until the last possible minute. The problem is, it's hard enough to give up (or cut down on) something you love. When you go about it this way, focusing all of your energy on a start date, your feelings for whatever it is you are quitting get intensified. And if you don't happen to kick your habit on your start date? You will feel even worse about failing, and it will put the idea into your head that you lack the willpower to quit...which will become a self-fulfilling prophecy...which will turn into a pattern of failure.
So, the next time you are ready to embark on a self-improvement quest, get rid of the calendar. Just tell yourself that today is the day for change, and get moving!