A personal journey of lifelong learning, sharing resources, creating things, and trying to be better.

Tag: Habit Building


SYSTEMS: A Better Approach to Accomplishing Goals

There’s a superior method to ensure ambitions are fulfilled.

Summary: Change your mindset when it comes to ambitious goals — break them down into tangible and practical daily routines.

Author’s Note: This article is an expansion of two articles I wrote for Beeminder:
The Tao of Bees
The Sting of Work

Dreams on the Backburner

As a writer, I find myself getting into slumps where I don’t write anything at all. Contradictory? — There will be eighty different half-finished pieces in my drafts. I’ll have a late-night epiphany while trying to go to sleep or in the middle of a shower about what would make a good post.

But then I never write the posts. Eventually, those supposedly great ideas just disappear, and I grow old and whither away and die, and never publish anything. The end.

The Best Time to Start a New Year’s Resolution is Right Now

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Today is not your enemy. There’s no need to complicate today (as in right now) with the uncertainty of the next five years. Every day when you get out of bed in the morning, you have two options:

  1. Do what you want.
  2. Don’t do what you want.

That’s all there is to it. You’re tricking yourself if you think that there’s something beyond the choice of doing what you love or not doing it.

But I won’t be dishonest in saying it’s very easy to get caught up in thinking that there’s some sort of oasis of productivity that’s just a few more miles away, all the time. That we’re just one epiphany away from no longer struggling, a few more articles away from the missing link.

And before we know it, another year has passed. Or maybe it was another important—albeit sentimental — day. Perhaps this birthday marked the last year of your life where you muddled around. You’re getting older, we’re all getting older.

But we cannot forget that these are arbitrary dates on an arbitrary calendar. Instead, start now.

Plain Binary

It’s widely known that a large majority of New Year’s Resolutions essentially dissolve after February. It’s facts like these that make me wonder about all of these people. Why do they want to make a change in their life in the first place? What made them stop?

And there’s just too much research and media regarding this for me to spout any more nonsense about it. Because every day when you get out bed, you have two options:

  1. Be a person who is going to change.
  2. Be a person who is not going to change.

This isn’t about capability, this isn’t about potential. This isn’t about test scores or past accomplishments or downfalls. This is about today. At the end of it, you’ll have either accomplished one of those two things. It’s plain binary.

Baby Steps

I’m not asking the world of you. In fact, nobody good in your life is. Surround yourself with good people. Whether they have clout or connections is irrelevant. Be warm and kind these people your whole life.

But I digress; start small. You can’t build more than one good habit at once, and you can’t get rid of more than one bad habit at once. Just one. That’s what you’re capable of today.

The Blank Canvas

It is so easy to become paralyzed by the blank canvas in front of you. Especially if it’s been that way for a week, or a decade. It’s easy to get hung up over the fact that you did nothing yesterday or the day before. For some reason, our instinct is to allow this streak to continue.

And in contrast, our most effective way to counter is this is by starting a streak in the opposite direction. Push a little, every day starting today. And ignore the self-doubt that comes from messing that up every once in awhile.

Just slap anything on when you see a blank canvas staring you in the face like some imbecile. Many painters are afraid in front of the blank canvas, but the blank canvas is afraid of the real, passionate painter who dares and who has broken the spell of `you can’t’ once and for all. — Van Gogh

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