In 2010, one of my goals was to publish on this blog thrice a week – on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. By committing completely to this schedule, I eliminated the self-discretion associated with it. I did not have to think if I should write on a particular day, because I had to show up and write. No one would have punished me if I failed to write but I still wrote as if someone would. It lead me to read more, connect more and explore more.
What did I learn from this experience?
In situations where we have a choice of not doing and no external penalties associated, we end up compromising. Isn’t this the reason why most people find it difficult to keep their own resolutions? We need an external force to be disciplined in areas that we ourselves feel are important!
One of the themes that occupies me is the power of daily practice. Can I do something everyday about things that matter to me? We grow in our careers and learn because we show up for the work and do it daily. We sleep everyday. We eat everyday and it nourishes us.
“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” – Zig Ziglar
I believe that daily practice is as nourishing– it forms a pattern of activities and these patterns are powerful. They inculcate habits. They ‘train’ us. They help us focus. Whether it is writing, learning a new skill, physical exercise, eating right or pursuing your hobbies, there are few things as powerful as a commitment to do it daily. When we eliminate the choice of doing it, we create space for creativity. We can focus on “how” we do the thing. We can alter our ways. We can make it better. We can adapt and optimize. And then, we learn.
“I keep to this routine every day without variation. The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind.” – Haruki Murakami (via Brain Pickings)
So, here are my first two steps in this journey of daily practice.
Identify (or acknowledge) things that matter the most.
Do them daily.
Sometimes, simplifying our lives is just about making things binary – either we do it completely with the whole heart in it or not at all. It is a commitment to overcome the first hurdle – our own resistance. A commitment to do, adapt and learn.
I am keen to see what lessons does this journey manifest!
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In the Photo: Graffiti art at abandoned factories in Tampere, Finland (Jan 2015). Artists use these dead walls as a canvas for their art to give them a new lease of colorful life.