We have a tendency to overestimate what we can accomplish in a year but underestimate what we can do in ten.
Have you heard that saying? I have heard and read this many, many times, but it only recently sunk in. Year after year my list of annual goals got longer and longer, and by the end of the year I’d made some progress (maybe) in a few areas (kind of) but nowhere near what I’d written down.
Don’t get me wrong, we can make a lot happen in one year. We can even change our lives completely within the course of a year. But some things take longer. They take time. They take a slow and steady build. And they are still worth putting in the effort every day because when we do accomplish them, we won’t care that it took us five years instead of one.
For example, I know that one day I want to write a book. I will write a book one day. But I also know that I’m not quite ready to write it yet. Not because I don’t think I’m ready from a skill perspective, but because I don’t think the story is quite ready to be written yet. But when I do decide to write a book, it will help if I already have a writing practice. It will help if I already have readers. It will help if I’m already known for my writing.
So although I know I won’t be writing a book this year, I will be writing this year. I will be (and have been) writing almost every day, even if only for a few minutes. I’m building the practice because it serves a purpose for my future. I could tell myself that I’m writing just because I love to write. Which is true! But then it would be easy to skip a day, or then a few days or a month. But I’m writing everyday because I am a writer and one day I will publish a book. Now that gives me a reason to write everyday. See the difference?
Writing is just one part of my daily practice. One of my other lifelong goals is to continue raising my internal happiness set point. After experiencing a lot of personal loss, I know that my natural, internal level of joy has dropped. Before you think, well that sounds really sad, I think the truth is most of us experience our internal joy levels drop as we grow out of childhood. We unlearn how to naturally and organically be happy. We learn to focus on our problems and what isn’t going exactly as we’d like instead of focusing on all our blessings and all the things that are going oh-so-right. And only some of us are actually aware of this. My more dramatic experiences have only shined a brighter light on it for me because it was very unusual circumstances that caused me to self-reflect.
To support raising my internal happiness set point, I aim to wake up a full hour before my daughter so that I have time for my daily practice which includes:
Reading inspiring and positive books even if only a few pages
Meditating using guided meditations - I try new ones often and tailor which ones to what I feel I need at the time
- Journaling about synchronicities I’ve experienced, or things I’ve learned (I often take notes from the books I’m reading) or simply taking a few minutes to write down the things I appreciate in my life.
There are mornings where I only get to one of these things. Sometimes life happens and I don’t get to any of them. But I always return to this daily practice.
Another longer-term goal is to stay healthy, strong and vibrant as I get older. So I’ve found the easiest possible way to make exercise a part of my daily practice. Notice I didn’t say the best way or the most fun way or the coolest way. The easiest way is the way to make sure it happens.
Do you have a daily practice? Are there things you prioritize every day that make up your daily practice?
Here are some really good reasons to have a daily practice:
- We may be adults, but we are not even close to finished growing, expanding, evolving. We never will be! A daily practice is a way to raise ourselves (taking over from our parents) to grow into who we want to be, to step further into our true potential, or to help unlearn some of who we may have become.
- A daily practice is extremely grounding. When life gets tough, we can rely on our daily practice (our toolbox if you will), to help get us through. When we feel lost or unsure, our daily practice is the first place to turn for some guidance.
- A daily practice makes us feel more alive and purposeful and sets the tone for the day.
A daily practice does not have to be set in stone - it can evolve over time. I even try to do it one day on the weekends, letting myself enjoy a leisurely wake up (if my daughter allows it that is) on the other day.
It is worth our while to reflect on where we are in our lives and where we'd like to guide ourselves. Build a daily practice to help you get there. It is like lovingly laying out a path for yourself.
Do something today that your future self will thank you for. - Sean Patrick Flannery