For most of my life there has been a great yawning gap between the life I imagine for myself and the life I actually live, but I have finally cracked the code. Using two simple tools I am now steadily moving towards the life I want to live.
The familiar pattern of getting nowhere
Late last year, yet again, I set a daily writing target for myself of 1000 words day. I started strongly, writing 1000 words five days straight. Then I skipped a day, but the next day I was back to it. Then I had a few busy days, then I wrote 1000 words two days in a row, then missed a few days, and so on.Over two months I probably averaged writing 1000 words two or three times a week. Eventually the idea seemed so remote and removed from the trajectory of my life, it fell by the wayside, resting amongst the litter of a thousand other unfulfilled plans.
Discovering two key tools
Around this time I learned about two tools. The first was from Stephen Guise, the author of ‘Mini Habits’, who I heard interviewed on a podcast.
Guise talked about having a daily habit of writing not 1000 words, but 50 words. He had on his daily to do list not ‘workout’, but ‘one pushup’. He explained that the idea is to set a goal that is so minimal you can’t not do it. He had read books, written books and become fit all through mini habits.
I was intrigued and relieved. Could I really fulfil my dreams of writing, 50 words at a time?Around the same time I read about the daily tracking app ‘Way of Life’ which is a phone app where you list the daily habits you want to create or break and then keep track of them.
The Code that works for me
Putting the mini habits together with the daily tracking app, I now have a consistent, effective, productive daily routine of meditating, journaling, reading, writing, gardening, walking, and exercising.
I have adapted and adjusted the list and my process over the last 6 months until it works for me. I love the reward of checking off a task with a big green tick. If I don’t get to a task I prefer to click the neutral grey ‘pass’, rather than the stark red cross.
My list is extensive and I probably tick every item in a day, once a month, but thats fine by me, all tasks are kept in mind and motion, and if there is no energy for them, I take them off the list.
Guise’s theory is that often you will do much more than the minimal, and that is definitely how it works for me.The Result
I am living into the life I want for myself. I love to garden but overwhelm and life easily get in the way and I start to scurry past the garden with its oppressive weeds. Now with a ‘Ten minute garden’ on my daily list, I feel connected to the garden and I know I’m making progress.
It’s the same with exercise. Even if I do five minutes of yoga a day, I can tick it off, feel stretched and there is momentum towards the life I imagine, where yoga is a core part of my daily routine.
And this article was written a bit at a time over a week.
It’s a modern take on the old chinese proverb ‘A journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step’. Inch by inch, day by day, I am closing the gap between how I wish I was living, and how I actually live, between moving towards my goals, and feeling overwhelmed by them.
If this idea gives you hope, put your dreams into daily tasks so small you can’t not do them, build it into your day, get reminders, tick it off and begin the journey to the life you imagine.