The universe was mine to conquer. I could have it all, if only I could find the right day to start.

In a traffic laden city, a bridge was finally built to help with the traffic flow and make commute easy for everyone. The bridge though lay unused while the traffic snarled underneath. People often wondered why the bridge was not yet open to use by the public. It was later found that the bridge couldn’t be opened because the governing body could not decide on a suitable day for its opening.

The story of the bridge is not unfamiliar to us. All of us, at some point of time have looked for the ‘perfect’ day to begin. We have committed to many a Mondays, birthdays or New year days to start acting on what we have been wanting to do. We have all looked for a day to start living our promises.

Did you ever wonder why we tend to wait for a day to start? Culturally speaking the concept of an auspicious day is found across societies. A day when the stars or the heavenly bodies are in perfect alignment and will ensure that what is well begun bears great fruits. Great kings were known to consult astrologers before going out on a conquest and ascending the throne.

We continue this tradition with or without the belief in astrology. Our plans, big or small, await a day to start. Most of us plan to start studying, living a healthier life style or learning something new from a particular day.

A lot of it perhaps has to do with wanting a fresh start. The first day of the year, a birthday or even the first day of the week, is often seen as a new beginning. A day we can approach with renewed energy and enthusiasm and this can help us kickstart our new project. When we plan to start on a particular day, we actually look forward to starting the project. We plan ahead and probably then are in a better position to achieve that goal.

I knew of a woman who wanted to start learning a musical instrument. She decided that she would start on her birthday, which was after a few months. In the interim period, she researched on various instruments, her inclinations, the courses available and how much it would cost. As her birthday approached, she had a set plan and started with great enthusiasm.

Though like for everything there is a flip side to this. Another woman wanted to learn how to dance. She decided to start from the New Year’s Day which was in a few weeks away. She started to research with great excitement, the various forms of dances, the available courses, the cost etc. She had pages of information with her, but alas she spent too much time in research. By New year, she was bored and confused. There were just too many options and too many hinderances in each option. She had lost her enthusiasm for learning dance altogether and gave up on her goal.

Setting a day for fresh start also gives one time to introspect on what has gone by. Perhaps an analysis of what one wants to achieve or wants to overcome helps in setting up of new goals. Maybe introspection of why one couldn’t achieve something before will help us set targets better. Failed resolutions are a field for humour but to the one who failed they are failures, tinged with guilt and frustration. Sometimes setting a day to start again gives us time to deal with this guilt and frustration. It gives us time to gather our resolve again and start something which we could not complete last time. It requires great strength to take up a challenge again when we have once failed at it and if we need time to pull ourselves together and start over on a new day, we do deserve that time.

I knew of a boy who wanted to take up running. Time and again he would start and fail till he gave up on the idea. We decided to take time off from the resolve and instead discuss why he would stop. We slowly worked on all the perceived obstacles and fears. We worked on setting reasonable goals and targets. Another aspect we worked on was reaction of others to his resolution. Since he would resolve to start on significant days, he would let people know of this resolve, and people would then constantly ask him or mock him about it. This created undue anxiety and he would lose the nerve for it. We decided to set a date which was not very conventional and not talk about it till he could persist for a month and he managed to persist for the whole year.

However, too much of something is also detrimental. Overanalysing your fears, setbacks and failures can make the target seem too overwhelming. Like the boy who wanted to start weight training but repeatedly failed to continue. He kept analysing the reasons and then gave up on the idea having concluded that weight training is not for him.

Sometimes people decide on a date because they would like to deal with their insecurities before they start. Our insecurities often stop us from doing things which we wish to do, either because they seem too big or because we seem to think too little of our abilities. Buying time by setting a date to start may help us focus and work on these insecurities. A man had an intense fear of flying but he resolved to take his wife on a Europe tour on their fortieth anniversary later that year. We worked on his fear, he took smaller trips and finally did manage to have a successful vacation. Or the girl who was extremely shy and kept to herself. She decided that on her birthday she would invite all her office colleagues, with whom she barely exchanged few words, home. She worked hard to overcome her insecurities and her fear of conversation till then and managed to have a grand party.

Sometimes though this buffer time is seen as an opportunity to indulge one last time on things which we wish to change. Like if we resolve to start a diet on a particular day, we tend to eat all sorts of unhealthy food till then or those who want to cut down on drinking alcohol may binge drink till that day essentially doing more harm than good.

I could start on a relevant day or I could start on any day, the important part is I start. Not just the first time but every single time. I could start without a resolution or I could just resolve to start but it is important that I resolve. My resolve could fail but it is necessary to resolve again and maybe that is why there are so many occasions we could resolve to start from.

Dr. Gauri Nadkarni Choudhary