Start With Yesterday


Starting a goal with what you’ve already done shifts your brain from goal setting to goal pursuit and creates momentum

LeAnn Hunt Explains the Start With Yesterday Principle

“The best time to start was yesterday. The next best time to start is now.” Can you go back in time to start a goal? No. And yes. Say you’ve set a goal to crochet a Pokemon character for your grandkids for Christmas. You could make a list of all the things you need to do: Call each grandchild to find their favorite character, buy yarn in the correct colors, make a checklist for each character (Pikachu, Charizard, and Jigglypuff), and make a list of steps needed to make each character including crochet, stuff, sew pieces together, sew on felt, wrap, mail. Sounds like you’ve got a plan and it sounds like a lot of work.

However, you’ve probably already done some work on this goal. You already bought a book of patterns because browsing Hobby Lobby and seeing the book is what inspired this goal in the first place. You also have decided to use your weekly crochet group to work on the characters. Honor that effort by adding those two items to the top of your list: buy patterns, and schedule crochet time. 

Why bother writing down what you already did?

  • It honors the efforts you made toward this goal
  • It gets you rolling toward action. Your brain sees you’ve already started, so it’s in execution mode rather than decision mode and it’s ready to get started on the next thing on the list.

No, you can’t go back in time and start yesterday, but you  can reflect back and remember past effort you made as you decided on and set up your goal. Honor those efforts and add them to your goal plan. 

So What – Application

If we can “start with yesterday” by recording previous efforts to increase motivation and shift us from deciding to pursuing our goals, we could start every goal action plan with these kinds of setup and decision making tasks:

  • Set up the goal
  • Brainstorm page 
  • Create a Goal Journal Page for this goal
  • Google . . . (whatever you had to google to decide)
  • Make a pro con list to help me decide         

What the “Start With Yesterday” principle looks like in a Goal Journal

The task list for this goal is a typical list of all the things Morgan has to do to finish the goal. Notice the second page where she added two tasks that she had already completed the day before as she was deciding on and setting up this goal. Even though it’s only two tasks completed, the page already makes you feel like you’re on our way with two tasks crossed off.