One Thing at a Time

An image of a man's silhouette who is by himself sitting in reflection

I enjoy writing, but I’ve never developed a practice for it that allows me to be consistent.

Something that always trips me up is thinking about the mountain in the distance, not the next step in front of me. When I get stuck thinking about the result, it can be very demotivating to think of the many steps required to achieve the result.

“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”

― James Clear, Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

I don’t like systems. I don’t like to-do tools. Heck, I don’t even like making lists of things I want to do or see when traveling internationally—I go with the flow and let the day take me where. That’s neither good nor bad, I think.

I believe routines make a difference, however. Routines for achieving a goal, routines for asserting control when things feel chaotic.

The mountain in the room…

Back to that feeling of looking at a mountain in the distance, it seems so far away, so time-consuming. While it feels overwhelming, it’s about how I look at it. Feeling overwhelmed is a natural thing.

What if we break it broke it down piece by piece? And what if we got even more granular and found the smallest unit of action to commit to?

Sometimes that unit of action is opening up a tab on my browser and opening a proposal document. It could be laying out your journal and pen on your desk the night before to help with a daily journaling practice.

That book, Atomic Habits is really good; the tips there are far better than what I can come up with. Pick it up if you haven’t already.

Finding the simplest, least stressful thing to do has helped me so much.

Creating small morning and evening routines has also proven helpful; it demonstrates to me the value of routines and that I can do them.

These morning and evening routines won’t necessarily get me to the mountain, the end result, any quicker, but it’s preparation; it’s proof positive I can do the things.

Being kind to oneself…

If you’re my friend and think I’m talking about you, know that I am talking about you.

We are where we are; it doesn’t really matter how we got here. What matters is that we put the work in; it never stops. The work is everything that requires our care, time, and attention.

We are the work. And as we take on that mountain, whatever that means to us in our lives, we take it on while being kind to ourselves. We’re doing our best. Others love us y’know, and we can honor that by loving ourselves. It’s corny, and it’s true.

We won’t always get it right, and sometimes, we can downright frustrate ourselves those times when we get it wrong. We’re only human.

Just take it all one thing at a time.

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