Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Importance of Setting Daily Minimums

If you are a normal human being, then you've probably had goals that you’ve been struggling with.  You climb and climb, but no light shows itself at the end of the tunnel.  But more often than not, the light remains elusive because we stay put where we are, lacking the consistent effort to practice day in and day out.  It’s easy to work hard for a week, but laboring for months and sometimes years for a pursuit that isn’t even necessary at the time requires a soul that lies on a higher echelon of caliber.  So most of us endeavor to push our boulder up the hill, only to give up half-way and watch it roll back down. 

In this post, I’m here to relay a specific method that will empower you with the consistency to roll that boulder all the way up your chosen hill of achievement.  Here it goes:

Set a daily minimum – a short, easy-to-do minimum.  So easy that, no matter how busy your day is, you can’t possibly have a BS excuse for not doing it.   I’m talking 10-15 minutes, the time it takes you to take a dump.  An alternative would be to set your minimum on a different metric other than time.  For example, instead of writing 15-30 minutes per day, write 150-300 words a day. 

Now, if you have any ambition at all, then you better being doing more than your minimum. A lot more.  But the point of this is twofold. First, setting a minimum breaks unwanted inertia.  Some days you just don’t feel it, so the only way you’re going to get off your ars is if you know you won’t have to do it very long.  And who knows, once you get in the rhythm, maybe you won’t want to stop.  Second, making your decision to fulfill a daily minimum beforehand, not susceptible to the momentary whims of the day, you’ve multiplied your productive labors considerably.  Let me explain.  Everyone is allotted 365 days a year to work on their goals.  However, depending on the person, as many as 100 days are wasted just because we are either too lazy or too busy doing other things.  This is why setting a minimum is so important.  It turns those 100 some-odd days of inactivity into 100 days of practice and improvement.  Those days may not be filled with much, but that’s another 25 hours on your craft – and more if you add the synergetic effects of consistent practice and subtract the regression inherent in inaction.   

Minimums are even more effective when applied to areas where your ambitions are merely modest.  If writing, playing music, or art, to name a few among many, are only endeavors you have no aspirations to be great of but nonetheless things you want to be somewhat decent at, then take a meager 15 minutes to work on them.  You won’t be an expert, but you’ll be pretty darn good, especially if you hack at it for several years. 

Obviously there are caveats -not every anvil lends itself to beating every sunrise.  Lifting weights is one example where one or two rest days per week are necessary.  But most activities can and should be partaken in everyday for a period of time. 

This isn’t some magic formula to mastery – you’re going to have to work a lot harder than that.  It’ll simply provide the benefits of consistency and more practice as well as fight the oxidizing residues that come with slacking off.  

One last note.  You should be doing this already, but write every thing down. See how long you can keep it up, and take pride in not letting down.

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