New name, same format: every month, I publish a list of my daily habits; things like “Do a set of pull ups” or “Write 300 words for a blog post.” I do this, because there is no doubt in my mind that habit forming is the single most important tool to make progress with your goals – slow and steady wins the race, not some kind of heroic effort. And publishing these reports is my way of holding myself accountable for my habits.
So how does it work?
I write out my list of habits, identify the accompanying goal (what do I want to accomplish with this habit in the long run?) and then self-assess my current progress. Simple enough.
I’m feeling especially misanthropic today, so I’m going to write about something that has been on my mind for a while but that I haven’t had the guts to talk about yet: there are basically only 3 types of people – leaders, followers and philosophers (plus a few hybrids); but that is pretty much it.
Coming up with classifications like this always reeks of elitism, or something worse (me being German, I want to be especially careful not to give off the wrong impression…). But just because there are some very problematic historical connotations, that doesn’t automatically prove the original idea wrong.
Every month, I publish a list of my daily habits; things like “Do a set of pull ups” or “Write 300 words for a blog post.” I do this, because there is no doubt in my mind that habit forming is the single most important tool to make progress with your goals – slow and steady wins the race, not some kind of heroic effort.
Whatever I’m currently doing, I cannot help but notice that it all comes down to resources in the end: Things like time, personal energy, money, etc. And what all of these different resources tend to have in common is that they are limited – very limited in fact.
I have been reminded of that rather harshly a few times this week, in two different contexts. A person that I knew and liked, even though we did not speak the same language, passed away. Then the brother of a very good friend was diagnosed with a potentially terminal illness (still keeping fingers crossed). In both instances, it is pretty obvious what the limited resource was, or still is: Time.
I was teaching Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class tonight and for the umpteenth time, I was trying to introduce some basic prehab work to the curriculum. Things like the deep squat test, the couch stretch and other Kelly Starrett inspired material. Let’s just say it hasn’t really hit home yet… I mean, the white belts all dutifully did what I told them. And to be fair, there was one guy who even approached me after training confiding an interest in mobility stuff. But most of the regulars just looked at me like “WTF is this all about? Let’s just train and go balls to the wall!”
I’m not complaining. I too was 23 once, and I would probably also not have understood. But being in my mid thirties now, and after 26 years of martial arts and several injuries and surgeries later, I can say one thing with absolute certainty: No matter how important you think the next upcoming competition is, it’s not. Investing in long-term prehab is ALWAYS more important, and should always take priority.
I’m a very orderly person, to the point of being an anal stickler for details. I like to pre-structure my days as much as possible, following a number of habits that are set in stone. This might seem boring to most people – it often does to me as well – but I also get certain sense of security from it. I know what to do, I know when to do it, and I know it will get me the results I want in the long run.
I recently finished “The Anxiety of Influence” by legendary literary critic Harold Bloom. Besides my ongoing Hegel studies, this might have been one of the toughest books I ever read: Bloom does nothing to invalidate the common stereotype about academics being too wordy, too cryptic and too cloistered. If anything, he takes it one further: He does not even try to make a rational argument you can follow – you either get his very subtle literary and cultural references or you don’t.
Looking at my stats, I’m not exaggerating when I say this blog is essentially about having a conversation with myself… Nothing wrong with that. In truth, forcing myself to write things down is probably the single biggest thing that helps me to achieve more clarity.
I feel this is especially important to do, if you are trying to do something beyond the norm. See, that is already one of my big writing wins! I can now at least kinda pinpoint what “beyond the norm” actually entails for me…
As someone who is obsessed with personal development and forming the right habits, I naturally have several friends who are on the same path. So inevitably, when we meet up, the conversation drifts towards personal development topics; and inevitably, we start talking about our goals.
So friend A will say: “I want to lose 20 pounds in 6 months from now.” Friend B will say: “I want to be able to make a living from working as a professional musician in a year from now.” Friend C will say: “I want to be married 2 years from now.” Friend D will say: “I want to learn 3 new languages in the next five years.”
All legit goals (well, if marriage is your thing…). And I like the fact that all my friends are very specific about their goals, in terms of what they exactly want to accomplish and in what time span. Just like me, they read their books and blogs and just like me, they know about the importance of goal setting. You need to have an idea of where you are going in order to get there – it’s a simple as that.
There are few things that I love like the idea of personal development. Even before I learned about the whole movement that goes with it, it was a thing constantly on my mind. How to get better at skillset XY? How to manage your time most effectively? How to prioritize well? How to improve relationships? How to make a living from what you love?
I keep coming back to these questions and I find that effort spent answering them is effort well spent indeed. Just the attempt makes me feel more content.
Having acknowledged that, there is a very weird tendency of the personal development crowd to act like a bunch of stoned hippies. Yes, I’m very excited about actively tackling the big questions in my life too, and yes, that is a very proactive and positive approach to life – but that does not necessarily mean everything is suddenly all rainbows and unicorns.