Doing things everyday isn’t easy. It’s simple to understand—you just have to do the thing everyday—but it isn’t easy to do. In yesterday’s Article 037, I wrote about the advantages of doing things everyday. Making a task a daily habit is the best way to get good at it. Continuous, daily and deliberate practice and improvements go a long way. Even just showing up to the task, if not improving on our “bad days” can be a great investment in our time and energy. Masters are created not when they perform well on their “good days” but when they turn up and try to give it their best shot on the so-called bad days.
But, we have to admit, it’s hard to create a task into a daily habit streak. Especially the things that you start and which are still new for you. It’s hard to go the gym everyday if you haven’t ever before and don’t feel like it. It’s hard to write a little bit everyday for the book you want to write and of which you just came up with the plan of writing. It’s hard to learn everyday the thing you want to learn. It’s hard but, doing the thing everyday is what makes you so much better at it than doing it non-consistently. And it’s actually psychologically hard too. The brain isn’t used to be doing the task everyday, again, especially when it’s new. Your brain doesn’t recognize the task at first and makes it difficult for you to do and causes the reason for you to not be interested in performing the action. But, this gets better if you do the task consistently.
So how can we do things everyday? (Note: we’ll take working out as an example for these steps):
- Force yourself to show up: At first, say the first 30 days or so (though it can take longer or shorter than that according to you and your desired behavior) you’ll just have to force yourself to work out. That’s right, just push yourself to get out of the house and to the gym. Just show up. No need to do anything fancy. Just put on your workout clothes and go the gym. Then you can do whatever you want. Whatever! If you want to, just pick up a 2 pound dumbbell and do one rep and come back home. Chances of that happening are extremely rare but still a probability. There aren’t any restrictions, you just have to go to the gym and work out, you picked up a dumbbell, that’s it, that’s your workout. At least it was better than doing nothing and you probably burned a few calories due to driving or walking to your gym as well. Most importantly you didn’t break your streak. You can do this everyday. Just one rep. But this won’t last for long, I’m certain. You’ll feel like, well… you come here everyday, why not just workout properly. And you’ll probably even get motivated by other people at the gym and won’t even have to touch that 2 pound dumbbell for one rep, instead you’ll try to get a proper workout in.
So, just force yourself to show up to the gym. If you’re writing a book, open up your Word document and force yourself to sit in front of the blinking cursor for 30 minutes. If you wish to read more, force yourself to read just one page, or even one paragraph everyday. If you want to learn a new language, force yourself to learn just one new word everyday.
That’s it. Just force yourself to show up. Do very less, it doesn’t matter; but remember to DO, no matter what, every single day. This wires your brain into going to the gym every day.
- Do only what’s relevant to you: Never try to maintain a streak of something that’s not significant to you and is sort of forced upon by the realms of some people and society. Because it won’t be worth it. And it won’t be right to even force yourself to do it everyday. So choose what you want to do, very wisely. Ask yourself, before starting your own streak, is this relevant to me or am I biased towards this and choosing it only due to opinions of others?
The answer is always obvious and so are the next steps.
- Track your streak: I don’t know why but there really is something about a “streak” which just makes me never want to break it. This happens whenever I keep track of it of course. Just keep a record of your streak. On a blank paper, your journal, notebook, wherever. Just make a simple record of your streak of the thing you’ve been doing everyday. And don’t be sad when you miss doing it one day. Get back at it tomorrow. I know the kind of troops who get into a big slump once they lose one day on their streak. Don’t be like that! Get on with the action tomorrow and create a new streak.
Tracking also let’s you to review your progress and see how far you’ve come with whatever you’re trying to implement into your own life.
What I like to do is write the date of the habit (for example learning a language for me): I’ll write Learning Spanish Everyday from “…” date (till the present moment of course). And I stick this piece of paper onto a wall or a pin board somewhere I can see everyday. And I keep a virtual copy of the date on my cellphone too (just in case). This doesn’t really motivate me—since I tend to not break my streak and I’m pretty particular about my streaks and keep them only of the things that are relevant to me, so I don’t really need motivation to do them—but it reminds me of how far I’ve come
Don’t let that streak die! Keep doing things everyday.