“How many people do you know call themselves an “entrepreneur” but have never started a business?
How many people do you know call themselves a “writer” but write once a month?
How many people do you know call themselves a “fitness coach” but do not coach people in fitness?
How many people do you know who call themselves an “artist” but never create art?
Are you one of these people?”
Whenever I start to feel like I’m getting behind, I panic.
If I haven’t exercised in the past 2 days…
If I haven’t posted at least 2–3 articles this week…
If I haven’t read for more than 60 minutes today…
I panic. “I’m falling behind,” I think frantically. I need to catch up before I give up entirely.
So, I begin desperately thinking of ways to get back on track. And of course, the answer becomes obvious:
Do all of the catch-up work, today.
So I am determined to write 3 long articles today. I declare I must read my book for 2.5 hours this evening. I need to go to the gym tonight and lift three days worth of weights!
And of course, I can’t do it.
You can’t either.
Yet, this is how most people operate. They commit to a daily routine, they inevitably miss a few days, they panic and try to catch up for lost time, they get overwhelmed…then they quit.
You gotta do it every day if you want to be successful.
It’s not easy. But implementing a practical, effective daily behavior is nothing if not simple.
Going to the Gym Once Does Not Get You in Shape
“You’re not an X-er unless you regularly X.” -Zak Slayback
Writing one article doesn’t make you a writer.
Learning “Smoke on the Water” on YouTube one afternoon doesn’t make you a guitarist.
Playing on DuoLingo for an hour doesn’t mean you can speak Spanish now.
You have to do it every day if you want to be enormously successful.
I’m not saying this is easy. In fact, most people are terrible at consistency.
In the words of Tim Ferriss in his book, The Four Hour Body:
“People suck at following advice. Even the most effective people in the world are terrible at it. There are 2 reasons:
1. Most people have insufficient reason for action. The pain isn’t painful enough. It’s a nice-to-have, not a must-have.
2. There are no reminders. No consistent tracking = no self awareness = no behavioral change.
Consistent tracking, even if you have no knowledge, will often beat the advice from world-class trainers.”
Most people are terrible at consistent daily routines.
Daily engagement is the only way to become truly successful with a new skill.
For every day you keep going, hundreds of others quit.
The only reason — the only reason — I’m confident I’m going to be in the top 1% of writers in the world someday is because I know I’m going to write every day.
I’m going to read my books every day. I’m going to lift that heavy 25lb dumbbell, attempt left-handed layups at pick-up games, and practice my Korean, every day.
The day I stop practicing daily is the day I start to lose.
In the words of Ramit Sethi:
“At the moment when we accept our weaknesses and stop deciding to grow, we’re the BEST we’re ever going to be. It’s all downhill from there.”
Those Who Only Do What They Feel Like…Don’t Do Much.
“Those who only do what they feel like… don’t do much. To be successful at anything you must take action even when you don’t feel like it, knowing that the action itself will produce the motivation you need to follow through.” -Hal Elrod
Most people let how they “feel” dictate the course of their lives.
If they feel tired, they sleep in. If they feel uninspired, they don’t create. If they don’t feel like doing something, they usually won’t.
If you only ever do what you feel like doing…you won’t do much in your life.
You need to cultivate a healthy “no-matter-what” mantra in your daily routine. No matter what — you’ll do it. Even if you don’t feel like it.
This is always a characteristic in the world’s most successful people.
Take a look at Olympic snowboarders. The Boston Globe once described a typical day for Olympic snowboarders: “up at dawn, stretch, watch video of the previous day, hit the slopes till lunch, go to class, do more conditioning, eat dinner, and then go to study hall for an hour and a half. At most, they get about an hour of ‘free time’ a day, but it’s usually used for homework.”
A fascinating truth about the world’s most successful people is that often, they’re not the strongest, fastest, or most creative.
The world’s most successful people are simply the best at staying motivated.
To quote prolific Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky:
“A self-respecting artist must not fold his hands on the pretext that he is not in the mood.”
If you want to become truly successful, entering into the top 1% to 3% of the population in skill level, you have to do it every single day. This isn’t easy, but it’s certainly possible to “master your disinclination” and put in the daily work.
It’s a choice that anyone can make, yet one that few people make.
You have to regularly do what you want to do in order to master it. Otherwise, you’ll always remain in the mediocre majority.
You Will Fail When You First Start. That’s OK. Give It 3 Months.
“95% of our society — the ‘mediocre majority’ — fail, time and time again, to start exercise routines, quit smoking, improve their diets, stick to a budget, or any other life habit that would improve their quality of life. Why? Most people don’t realize the seemingly unbearable first 10 days of a new habit is only temporary.” -Hal Elrod
Back when my wife and I were engaged, we knew we had to work on our finances. We both had not great spending habits, no savings, and plenty of debt.
We ended up enrolling in a personal finance curriculum by financial guru Dave Ramsey. During the budget lesson, he explained the most common difficulty with sustaining a budget.
“For the first 3 months, you’re going to blow it, a lot,” he declared. “But failure is part of the process. It takes 3 months to finally start getting it right.”
His timeframe was prophetically right. For the first 90-ish days, my wife and I just couldn’t stick to our new budget. It was exhausting, frustrating, and discouraging.
But after 3 months, we finally started getting it right.
Eventually, the budget became an integral part of our relationship. In 9 months, we paid off $15,000 dollars in student loans and become 100% debt-free.
When you commit to doing something every day, you will fail (at first).
When you introduce a new, foreign behavior into a lifestyle, the lifestyle usually fights back. It doesn’t want to change. It’s a shock to the system, and your body and mind will resist it. But like jumping into a frigid pool, your body will become used to it.
The problem is, most people never get past this phase. Like the new gym-goers in January, they usually fall off the wagon before they even see any results.
You will fail when you first start. That’s OK. You likely won’t see results until weeks or months after.
Just keep the 3-month rule in mind. Eventually, you’ll finally start getting it right.
“You can be successful only at things you are willing to fail at.” -Mark Manson
Show Up Every Day, and Showing Up Becomes Easier.
BoJack Horseman: Oh God, lungs on fire.
[Stops to catch his breath before resuming]
BoJack Horseman: Ow, crap. I hate this. Running is terrible, everything is the worst.
[Lying down, panting heavily]
BoJack Horseman: Oh my God, oh my God.
Jogger: [Jogger stands over BoJack] It gets easier.
BoJack Horseman: Huh?
Jogger: Everyday, it gets a little easier.
BoJack Horseman: Yeah?
Jogger: But you gotta do it everyday, that’s the hard part. But it does get easier.
When I’ve done something for even just 4–5 days in a row — waking up early, publishing an article, reading my book for 60 minutes, etc. — I feel incredible. It’s extremely invigorating, and I’m brimming with self-confidence. After 4 days!
It gets easier if you keep doing it.
It’s amazing how big of a scope your mind can grow to handle. New parents find themselves transform literally overnight into capable parents. My wife and I had no idea what we were doing in our first week in Korea. Now, we’re ordering food in Korean and making small talk with taxi drivers.
We humans can adapt to nearly anything. But you have to do it every day.
It’s not always easy. Like we said before, most people are terrible at following a plan.
But it gets easier.
Here are 2 mini-strategies to successfully start doing something, every day.2 Mini-Strategies to Successfully Doing It Every Day
1. Track Your Behavior
“Where performance is measured, performance improves. Where performance is measured and reported, the rate of improvement accelerates.” — Thomas S. Monson
Consistent tracking, even if you have no knowledge, will often beat the advice from world-class trainers.
The world’s best athletes, companies, and innovators fiercely (and even obsessively) track their performance.
Angela Duckworth penned in her book, Grit that even though she’s been jogging for 10 years, she still only has the stamina of a beginner jogger. The “10,000 hour” rule is bogus; without tracking, you can still be mediocre after 10 years of practice.
Once you start tracking your progress, it becomes alive. You go from “casual jogger” to perpetually-improving athlete.
Track your progress.
2. Write Down Every Minute of the Activity
Here’s my morning routine schedule:
Creating a minute-by-minute schedule of how my morning will go was crucial for me to start waking up early.
If I know exactly what I’ll be doing, every single minute, I can implement a habit far easier. It takes out all the drain of trying to get myself motivated. I already know what I’m going to do.
Want to eat better? Write down a food prep schedule of exactly what you’ll be eating for the next 7 days.
Trying to get yourself to “go to the gym” is incredibly hard.
But getting yourself to “run on the treadmill for 20 minutes, then 3 sets of 20 crunches, and 4 sets of 10 squats of 100lbs” is a piece of cake.
“If you want lasting change, you’ve got to give up this idea of ‘trying something.’ You’ve got to decide you’re going to commit-to-mastery. Most people dabble. They say, ‘I’d like to change my body’ or ‘I’d like to make my relationships better.’ These people don’t have enough detail to follow through.” -Tony Robbins
Don’t play catch-up. If you missed a day, don’t try to win it all back and even the balance.
Just do today’s work, today.
For every day you keep going, hundreds of others quit. Trust in the process, and remember: it gets easier.
You just gotta do it every day.