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Three days ago, on Thursday night, I forced myself to schedule a routine on my calendar. I planned to follow it starting from the next day, which was Friday. My calendar starts the week on Sunday (I’m not sure why but at this point I’m already used to it so I’ll just go with it), so yesterday marked the end of the week and today will be the start of the second week.
It’s been two days and yes, I was thinking about saying only, but two consecutive days of sticking to your planned schedule is already a great feat on its own. Well, even just creating the schedule itself is a worthy achievement. Yes, I’m basically praising myself for what I’ve done, but that’s not the point I’m trying to make. The thing is, don’t undermine your efforts that you’ve done for yourself. Praise yourself more, congratulate yourself and even celebrate it if you can with your close ones. These little things are as important as creating and sticking to your schedule.
Focus on goals, not on activities… or is it?
I’ve started working out again on a regular basis, forced myself to have some me-time, do some self-care, and of course not to forget to do some chores. These little things are the stuff we can probably do while we have “the time” or “motivation”. You might’ve heard that when planning out your schedule, we need to focus more on the goal rather than the activities themselves. While it’s true to a certain degree, it only works when you already have a predetermined priority list that you need to do. It works as a cram method to finish your tasks, but the same doesn’t apply for disciplining yourself.
When it comes to discipline, it doesn’t matter what you do (the end goal of it). What matters is that you DO it, do it regularly until it becomes a habit of yours, and make sure you OWN it. You might think that just making your bed immediately after you wake up is insignificant, it might be, but there’s a huge difference on those who do it every single day and those who only do it once in a while.
Again, it doesn’t matter how small the end result is, when you finish doing it, you completed something that day, you’re making progress to your day. If you picture your day to day tasks as a to-do list you need to complete every day, you’ve already done and immediately checked off one thing to do from your list the first thing in the morning. That achievement will boost your day and (hopefully) create a snowball effect that gets bigger as you complete more things.
Remove constraints, think lightly and just do it
I feel really nice about myself when I’ve managed to stick to my planned schedule, even after only completing a task. The trick is to not think about it too hard, you’ve planned your schedule from yesterday for the day, whatever happens, try your hardest to stick and follow through it. Even better if you can make it a weekly schedule instead of only for a day, that way you’ll have an easier time making it a habit.
Let’s take an example from yesterday, I’ve planned that I’ll start doing some chores + workout on Friday morning (every friday) for around 2 hours. I usually do my chores on the weekend or in the afternoon after I’ve finished the day, and I haven’t worked out for some time (long time really). This time, I woke up and forced myself to start at 10 in the morning, it doesn’t matter what I do after, I just need to start it first. So I did, I start cleaning my room, I vacuumed and cleaned my floors since that’s what I usually did. Then, I started the drawers, throwing out unused stuff, then everything just connects together, continuing with cleaning my workspaces and other stuff. It felt really satisfying, and once I think it’s good enough, I peeked at the time and I still had around 40 minutes left (until 2 hours). That’s plenty of time to workout, and so I did.
After doing chores early in the morning, it was quite satisfying, but the difference was huge after the workout. To keep the momentum going, I cleaned myself, got some lunch, and continued my schedule, which was to have some quality me-time for 3 hours. I haven’t done this in a while, but I knew I need it. Having the same mindset as before, it doesn’t matter what I do, I just need to start it first. Especially with me-time, there’s really no right or wrong way to do it, as long as you pamper and enjoy yourself, I’d say it’s a successful me-time. The first thing I do is turn off my phone and messaging applications on the computer. Then, I need to decide if I wanted to do my hobbies, watch and catch up with some of my shows, or take some good afternoon’s rest. Well, I figured it’s been a while since I had an afternoon rest and I’m pretty tired that week, so I layed down on my bed and napped in an instant. Surprisingly, I woke up right after 3 hours has passed and so that concludes the me-time.
There’s of course a lot more I planned out and everything is more or less as vague as “Workout” or “Me-Time”, I didn’t specify the details because that would take a lot more time and I wanted this to be a weekly routine, so I thought it’s better to just come up with the details on the day so it’s more flexible on what I will and can do. These actions and routines might seem tiny and insignificant, but don’t underestimate the boost it can give to yourself, mentally and emotionally. The boost you get is way more fulfilling than relying on external stuff.
Progress is progress
Don’t think too hard about the goals, perfect your systems and create the optimal condition for yourself to work and improve. Find your own way to do stuff and complete them, never compare with other people with the intent to make yourself feel bad. Competition and having someone to look up to as motivation is a good thing, but remember that everyone progress on a different pace, we live on our own time and only that.
Goals are about the results you want to achieve. Systems are about the processes that lead to those results.
As James Clear said above from the book “Atomic Habits”, it’s the systems we have that matter. The importance of goals are way too exaggerated in some places, both the winners and losers have the same exact goal, they always do. So, the deciding factor can’t possibly be the goal. Of course, they’re still important, we can’t possibly know where to start without a goal, but the systems are what gets you to the target.
Progress is progress. A 1% progress is still progress. This post might be an oversimplification on tackling these stuff, but really this is just what I felt and what I need to get started. I can’t stop stressing this, but everyone is different, some of your starting line might already be ahead of me, some of you might also be behind. But that doesn’t matter, each of us are on our own tracks.
I highly recommend you to read the book above, “Atomic Habits” by James Clear. I also found this nice Medium article as a quick overview and getting started guide for you with tight schedules that needs to get going as quick as possible. That’s all from me, good luck and godspeed!
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