New Day. New Me.
A year is too long for re-evaluations and reinventions
It didn’t take long for January to disappear. February is blazing past faster than you’re comprehending. Whatever promises you’ve made to yourself is probably already broken.
Write every day? Go to the gym every day? Wake up at 5am every day? Do that thing you’ve always wanted to/supposed to do every day? It started off well until you decided to skip a day, and another day, and another day.
A few weeks later and you find yourself back into your old habits and routines.
If you’re failing, you need to change your time frame
Metrics determine the success and failure of all things. If your metric is too big, then you’re most likely to fail. A year is a lengthy metric. A lot can happen in a year and if we start failing early, we often convince ourselves there is still time for redemption.
This doesn’t allow us to accept our failures and grow. Instead, it helps us avoid facing reality until the time comes for evaluation. We’re always on our best behaviors when it’s that time of the year. It is during this time that we often look at ourselves, our shortcomings and where we went wrong — only to repeat the cycle of starting and failing all over again.
When we shorten our time frame, we speed up this process and eliminate the blank space in between. We don’t give ourselves excuses to wait.
Habitual procrastinators will readily testify to all the lost opportunities, missed deadlines, failed relationships and even monetary losses incurred just because of one nasty habit of putting things off until it is often too late.— Stephen Richards
We need to face and accept our failures so that we can start again, hopefully, this time, with better results.
Be a winner every day — or 1% loser
The Japanese have a method for continuous improvement. They call it the Kaizen method. It was initially developed for businesses to improve and thrive but can also be applicable for personal use.
The idea is to focus on consistent improvements rather than big audacious feats. The idea is that you take a series of small and unrelenting steps to get to your destination rather than one bursty leap. You play the role of the consistent tortoise rather than the rabbit.
Compounding is the greatest mathematical discovery of all time. — Albert Einstein
The best thing about taking little consistent steps is that if you stumble or stop, the impact it has on the overall outcome is minimal. When you achieve what you set out to do, you get to experience the series of little wins that add up to the big glorious victory at the end. When you fail, there is a quicker chance for you to redeem yourself. If you consistently fail, then you know quite quickly that you’re not doing something right. It’s better to figure this out in 7 days of consistent failing rather than in 7 years.
Habits never die, they can only be transformed
Habits are a series of automated decisions that we make on a daily basis. Routines are a collection of habits. Often, one habit triggers a gain reaction of others.
When we want to transform ourselves, we often try and discard the habit and their associated chains without first understanding the triggers and processes. We shift our attention to the expected output rather than becoming aware of ourselves and internal needs. We go against the grain of our ingrained habits in hopes of adopting new ones to help us turn into the person we want to be.
And that’s where we often fail. We think only of the grand end goals rather than the current situation. We look too far into the future and fail to see ourselves in the present.
Or as James Clear puts it:
We place unnecessary stress on ourselves to lose weight or to succeed in business or to write a best-selling novel. Instead, you can keep things simple and reduce stress by focusing on the daily process and sticking to your schedule, rather than worrying about the big, life-changing goals. When you focus on the practice instead of the performance, you can enjoy the present moment and improve at the same time.
When we shift our evaluation time frame as a daily activity, we get to determine what small changes we can make to let us have our daily victories. Eventually, those small changes will turn into bigger ones when compounded through time.
New Day. New Me.
It’s the mantra I tell myself, especially on days I’ve failed at a goal that was too audacious and big. I still have weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly goals. But the constant daily personal evaluations — the comparing of myself to who I was yesterday — has helped keep me on track towards what I want to achieve.
So far, I’m winning.
I started the year off with a goal to write at least once a day. So far, I’ve failed 6 times over 2 months. That’s not bad considering I’ve won on all the other days. And it is these consistent victories that keep me on my present track. It allows me to look back and say — I can do this, I can be better than yesterday.
The best part about this daily evaluation method is that on the days you fail, you have the next day to redeem yourself. You view your tasks differently and your long term relationship with new habits changes. It’s different if you tell yourself that you only have to do something for one day — and keep doing it for one day consecutively. It’s another thing when you tell yourself that you’re going to do something for a week, a month or a year.
The brain is funny like that.
When it perceives something as difficult, painful and lengthy, then the chances of it giving up is high. But when that pain and difficulty is perceived to be short, then you’re likely to succeed. You’re more likely to push through the writer’s block and icy mornings to the gym.
So tell yourself, it’s only for one day and don’t think too far into the future or the past. Keep yourself focused on the present you and what you want to achieve in this particular moment.
It’s working wonders for me and can do the same for you.