There are two approaches to everything. The first approach is the ‘super-project’. That’s when you commit to something and run at it full-tilt. It’s when you go on an extreme weight-loss diet, a clutter purge, a radical shift in your career, or a total life-style overhaul.
The second approach is the ‘little and often’. That’s when you commit to slowly replacing unhealthy food with healthy alternatives, de-clutter slowly by giving away one item a day, or gradually educate and transition yourself over time into a new way of being.
Both methods have plus points and minus points. The ‘super-project’ can be high-risk. It can be overwhelming, it can cause us to burn our bridges, and it can be difficult to sustain. It can also be a fast and effective means of forcing yourself to follow through, a kind of Phoenix like rebirth of yourself.
The ‘little and often’ method is often more sustainable, less dramatic and safer. It can be an effective means of gradually transforming your life and making sure you have really thought it through and built the necessary foundations. You slowly reduce your spending in one area. You slowly tidy and de-clutter your house, drawer by drawer, cupboard by cupboard. You commit to a ten year plan, instead of a ten day plan. You can also spend a lot of time spinning your wheels, getting rid of something just to buy two other things, reduce your spending in one area just to have it creep up somewhere else.
The Art of Routines
A routine is a habitual set of actions that is performed regularly. A routine is often done on auto-pilot. We come home, we turn the TV on, and we stick dinner in the microwave while watching Family Guy. A routine can also be a small thing that leads us to the goal we want. We could come home, switch into our trainers, and go for a twenty minute run.
The key is to make sure our routines are in line with what we want to achieve. How do we make sure that happens?
Decide on what you want
The first step is to know what it is you actually want. Do you want to start a side business? Cook more meals at home? Save 50% of your income? Be able to run a marathon? You can’t work towards a goal, until you know where you’re going. Otherwise you just go around in circles.
Figure out the little steps that get you there
Start a side-business? You need a client. Where do you get a client? Figure out a small list of actionable things you can do, and then pick a time of day to them. For example, you could send out three leaflets a day to local businesses. You could do this every morning before breakfast, or last thing at night before sleeping.
If it’s the ability to run a marathon, you need to go running frequently. If you want to lose weight, you need to eat a salad a day. And so on. You’re a smart person, you don’t need me to tell you what you need to do.
Keep it Simple
This is a blog about simplicity after all. Just pick one daily routine. Don’t start a side-business, go on a diet, commit to run a marathon, and take something to the charity shop every day. You want one habit that you do daily. Not ten habits that you forget and run out of time for.
Once it becomes habitual, you can start a new one. Around thirty days is probably good. And try giving up habits too, for every new one you bring in.
Remember you have a lifetime
You don’t have forever. If you keep putting it off, you’ll wake up when you’re seventy and realise you never did anything. But also – realise you have an entire lifetime. You don’t need to do everything urgently. Learning a new language can wait until you have your health sorted. Ten years is a long long time. You can spend a year messing around with one thing, and then move on to something else.
It’s about the journey – not the destination.