I always start the New Year exactly the same way: hung over. Nah, JK. Sure, I always have a good time around the holidays, I just can’t party quite like I used to. Besides, why would anyone want to wreak that kind of havoc on the most precious thing they’ve got – their body?

When you stop and think about it, your body does a damn good job of taking care of itself. Besides having some pretty well designed organs to begin with, it’s constantly regulating itself through dozens of hormones like insulin and cortisol. That’s how such a complex organism operates as smoothly as it does.

If you don’t screw it up, your body will last you, well, it’ll last you a lifetime.

So let me ask you this: In what crazy mixed-up universe does it make sense to decide you’re going to start doing things differently once a year? Why wait to fix what’s wrong and do things right? Why not self-regulate and make corrections as you go, like your body does?

You know, I’ve never actually made a New Year’s resolution. I know what my goals are and what the plan is and I work to make it happen every day. Sure, there are times when I need to step up the pace or make a change, so I just do it. No drama, no delay, just action.

I use a little system called self-awareness and discipline. Maybe you’ve heard of it. It’s an awful lot like the human endocrine system in that it’s more or less self-correcting. You just have to be honest with yourself so you know what’s going on, and when things aren’t going right, you make a change. Simple as that.

The only problem with that system is if you let yourself get so far out of whack that no amount of minor midcourse correction will be enough to straighten you out. Like if you’re over your head in debt, you have a crappy job or no job at all, you have no real marketable skills or prospects, your relationships suck, you hate your life, that sort of thing.

That’s when you need a serious brick to the head to wake you up.

It’s the same thing with your body. If you do everything possible to screw it up – don’t eat right, are always stressed out, never exercise, and don’t get enough sleep – you know your hormones are not going to be capable of making it right. Your body can do some pretty miraculous self-correcting but it can’t do that.

Likewise, if you let your career and business life get so out of control that you’re on a path to nowhere and all you’ve got going for you is the hope that something good will happen on its own, you need a lot more than a midcourse correction. You need a self-intervention. But if you need to wait until the first of the year to get yourself on the right track, you’re doing it wrong.

Look. At any given time you should have a pretty good idea of where you’re heading and how you’re going to get there. And you should have enough self-awareness and discipline to keep you moving more or less in the right direction and making midcourse corrections as needed. If not, fix it. Don’t wait. Consider this your brick to the head.

Image credit Navy_NADAP via Flickr

A version of this originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com.

  • BigGameHunter

    Steve,
    As usual, another great, no-nonsense perspective that bucks another “norm” head-on. The “New Year” has always been a nit of an event for me, but I had really not thought about why until reading your post. Recognizing leading indicators and trends have been my wake-up call on how to avert gaps and disasters before they happen. A revelation and commitment to change can sometime occur on June 18 instead of January 1 when it might be too late to do anything about it anyway. Nonetheless, do party a bit on New years Eve! Just don’t get stinky.
    Mark

    • Steve Tobak

      Likewise. Happy New Year!

  • Tom

    Life is a cinch by the inch (daily health maintenance) but hard by the yard (New Years resolutions).