This is the first post in a series about the power of Doing It Everyday. In this post, we talk about the advantages of taking a small form of your goal and just doing it everyday. In the second, we discuss how to make doing it everyday easy.
Over the past couple years I’ve tried many techniques for adopting new habits and learning new skills. The simplest, most reliable one I've put to use is to simply do some form of it every damn day - no matter how reduced from the ultimate goal it is.
I initially noticed the power of this was when I decided, for the first time in my life, to actually get in shape. I started going to the gym a few times a week but found it tough to remember to do and easy to convince myself to stay sitting in my chair.
Then I decided to walk to the gym everyday, even if I wasn’t planning on working out. Suddenly, the pressure was lifted and soon I was in the habit of getting to the gym. Once I was there, it was hard to convince myself not to work out.
It seemed strange, but somehow doing it more made it easier to do.
This has become a key weapon in my arsenal when I want to get into something new and I've found a few more advantages that make Doing It Everyday awesome.
Why I Do It Everyday
To make unrealistic goals attainable. I've written in a few articles now that I think breakdancing is awesome and I'd like to be able to do it. This feels strange to share with you because it's just not very realistic - I am so far from a dancer!
But if I can figure out specifically what elements of breakdancing I struggle with, I can improve on them day by day and work my way there.
For now, that just means stretching everyday to improve my flexibility - easy.
To ensure constant progress. After writing about learning to love scales last week, my buddy Paul asked about how I've been picking up piano in general. I wrote out a long reply but the most important part was: "getting better is as simple as sitting down and playing."
Sure, there are logistical issues like "What do I play?", but I've found that as long as you take care of the sitting down and playing part, the rest matters a lot less than you'd imagine - especially if you're keeping things challenging.
Somehow, as the days go by and you keep prodding at skills that challenge you, your ability, almost magically, catches up.
To communicate importance to my brain. In trying to understand this "magical" improvement, I've developed a few theories. One of them is that the brain is happy to allocate its processing power to tasks, as long as it knows they're important.
When you were a baby, picking up a language was easy because it was critical to your survival. You were, as a result, able to learn to communicate from a completely blank slate. Yet, most of us, once older, find it extremely difficult to do so - even with the understanding of how languages work.
It seems that, as Benny is showing us, the easiest way to learn a new language is to go to a new country and just start talking to people in it as quickly as possible. The racing heart beat and clamoring for words communicates, without a shadow of a doubt, that this is important and demands more brain power.
Doing It Everyday does the same thing. It identifies an activity as worthy of mental processing, even when you aren't actively engaged in it. As a result, your improvement begins to feel magical and unstoppable.
To focus on the doing. I never liked the idea of "routines" growing up - they seemed to take the fun out of life. But lately, I've noticed that when I leave my days up in the air, I spend a lot of time figuring out what to do and a lot less actually doing anything.
When you simply decide to do something everyday, you stop worrying about the petty things and focus on what actually matters - your work, your new hobby or your workout.
Now, I'd rather be spontaneous within doing something than in what to do.
So that I can take risks. I only post an article on the Tumble Blog twice a week, but I write for it everyday. So, if I want to try out a new writing technique or write about something I know I would never post, I can do it without worrying.
Doing something constantly creates real abundance, so you can feel free to explore around in it.
To figure out what I like. The ultimate risk, of course, is starting at all - which is part of why many people never even give what they'd love to do a try.
Doing something everyday means you can start small and work your way up.
Even more important, it makes it extremely clear, extremely quickly whether you actually like doing something or just like the idea of doing it.
Instead of entertaining the idea of biking cross-country for 5 years, just get out and start biking a bit more everyday. It's easy and helps you refine what you want.
We are what we do everyday. What we consider ourselves to be is important. Another way to put this is our identity - what we identify ourselves with.
I am a programmer. I've done it just about everyday since I was 12. When I code, I am in control and confident.
I am not a dancer. I had to be forced to watch my sister dance (though she was damn good!) as a kid and have only recently even found it interesting to watch. When I dance, I flail.
I am becoming a writer. It too is only a recent interest of mine, but it's startling how fast you can identify with something when you do it everyday. It becomes a part of you, you grow more confident in it and become aware of what you need to do to improve.
If you keep kicking yourself every time you realize you've really been meaning to get into ________ but for some reason haven't, then you're an excellent candidate for Doing It Everyday.
If that feels unthinkably challenging and impossible to fit into your schedule, check out our post on how to make doing it everyday easy!
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