Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Todd Henry of Accidental Creative.
It’s tempting to believe that accomplishing your goals is about big efforts and huge wins. In reality, it’s more about the little things — the “dailies,” to borrow a monastic term — that you do consistently.
For example, people often ask me how to write a book. I reply, “No one writes a book.”
They look at me puzzled. They know I’ve written and published four books in the past decade.
I clarify, “You don’t write a book. You write a sentence, then a paragraph, then a section. If you write enough of those, for enough days in a row, then eventually you’ll have a book.”
My “Daily” Commitment
For years I’ve committed to writing 500 words a day on my book projects. The result is hundreds of thousands of words and multiple books. (Five hundred words is a chapter every few weeks, and a first draft in about eight months.) But it was the daily discipline of writing that yielded that body of work. I didn’t lock myself in a room for two weeks, frantically typing away. I sat myself in a chair and wrote, regardless of whether or not I felt like I had anything to say that day. Once I’d hit my 500 words, then I’d achieved my goal.
As Gretchen Rubin once said, “What you do every day is more important than what you do once in a while.” The activities and rituals you build into your life, each and every day, shape who you become.
So what do you do every day to meet your big goals? Who do you want to become? (Tweet this.) As you consider your life and goals, I’d encourage you to build a “daily” into the following four areas:
- Mental. Do you have a daily ritual of studying, seeking inspiration, or thinking deeply about the problems or challenges you’re facing? If not, what would it look like to dedicate 30 minutes each day to knowledge and reflection? Doing so will provide you with a deep well of inspiration for your work.
- Physical. Do you have a daily exercise regimen that allows you to be active and progress toward your physical goals? I take a long walk every day as a way to re-ground myself and explore ideas. This daily ritual has become essential in my quest to stay physically healthy and to relieve anxiety.
- Emotional. Who do you connect with daily? Our relationships are a vital part of our emotional well-being and a critical way to stay inspired. Do you have a daily ritual of calling a loved one, or connecting in conversation with someone you care about?
- Spiritual. Do you have a daily ritual of breaking away from the noise to contemplate, meditate, or pray about your life, purpose, and ambitions? Journaling, meditation, and time spent in solitude are powerful practices to prepare you to engage fully with life and work.
Regardless of which “dailies” you choose to build into your life, make certain you instill a handful of practices that keep you rooted and progressing toward your goals. In the end, your body of work will be shaped more by daily choices than any big effort of the will.
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