Headshot of Covington Doan by Paul Jun

Covington Doan

Fresh starts

Katy Milkman has written a phenomenal book aptly named How to Change. In the book, she shares the story of Ray Zahab to illustrate the power of a fresh start:

Shortly before midnight on December 31, Ray smoked his last cigarette. "If I can't do it now, then I'll never be able to do it," he told himself.

The next morning, Ray woke up with a strong craving for a cigarette. "But it was January 1, 2000," he recalled, and with the arrival of the new millennium, he had crossed an important threshold—he was no longer the same Ray who had been unable to kick his nicotine habit. "Something in me, a little spark, said I can do this."

And Ray did do it—he quit for good.

In 2003, he won the 100-mile Yukon Arctic Ultra, one of the world's most extreme endurance races. He's quick to note that his victory started on the first day of 2000. That moment made everything else possible.

Fresh starts work because they help you to feel distanced from your past failures. They also help you to be optimistic about the future.

You could wait until the new year or the next turn of the century to pursue a positive change in your life. But maybe you just finished an amazing online course? Or maybe you just binged the latest Netflix series? Or maybe a project at work is about to wrap?

A fresh start could be right around the corner if you look carefully.