Yesterday was Christmas. I spent it in New Jersey with my parents, sister, aunt, uncle, and three of my cousins. We played board games (Scattergories!), ate Christmas dinner together, and I "helped" my cousins play with their new toys they got for Christmas.
And then, in between those events, I did two hours of Japanese practice and also spent time writing content for Life Nomadic.
I have a lot of good habits as well as a lot of bad habits, but one of my best is that I treat every day equally.
We all know that progress is made through relentless consistent effort. Luck comes into play too, of course, but only when you're in the right place for it. Relentless consistent effort is how you get to that right place.
I'm a big fan of daily habits because it's what you do every day that determines who you are and where you end up. I also think that the discipline in doing something every day is important.
If I couldn't pick a task and trust myself to do it every day, I would consider that a huge personal failing and would work hard on correcting it.
That isn't to say that I'm perfect. Right now my daily task is to learn 35 new Kanji and to review approximately 150-200 kanji. This takes roughly two hours and is pretty mentally taxing.
A few times in the past 7 weeks I have put it off for too long in the day and have gotten too tired to complete it. I twice did nothing during the day and three times did only review, no new ones.
That's not ideal, but it's not the end of the world.
Exceptions don't define the habit unless you use them as an excuse to get off the train. Every time I fell off I made sure to do my Kanji first thing the next day and get caught up. One of the days I skipped took over four hours of flashcards to get caught up.
The habit isn't as important as the attitude. Don't look for reasons to get out of doing what you should be doing. Place value on doing things even when conditions aren't perfect.
"It's the weekend," doesn't count as a reason to skip, and neither does, "It's Christmas."
Get it done.
Consistent effort is much harder when you have inconsistent timing. Think of a workweek:
- Monday - Difficult because your head is still in weekend mode.
- Tuesday - A little bit better, but still rough because you're so far from the weekend.
- Wednesday - You've found your groove.
- Thursday - You're still in the groove.
- Friday - You slack off because you're looking forward to the weekend and you're almost there.
Not everyone is like that, of course, but I bet you can at least relate to it a little bit.
I think a better way to do it is to create a lifestyle that blends work and pleasure in a way that is sustainable. My "work seven days a week thing" makes me sound hardcore, but the truth is that I also spend time reading and hanging out with my friends every day.
This is also how I do my diet. Other than a somewhat dreaded once-a-month "eat meat to keep bacteria in my gut" day, I don't cheat. No weekly cheat day.
Instead I create a diet that is comfortably sustainable every single day, and I enjoy the momentum that builds.
I have found that when I give myself the same responsibilities and leeway every single day, it makes it MUCH easier to stick to things. Never underestimate the power of momentum.
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