We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. (Aristotle)
I’m very goal-oriented and last year was good for achieving goals. I managed to run a couple of 1/2 marathons, make a much-desired job change, and get two certifications. The last of these things was done on December 30th, just a day before the end of the year. It turns out, though, the calendar rolled around to January 1st. Having reached some goals ultimately did not produce a catharsis with a fanfare and the words “The End” appearing on the screen.
There is nothing like clear, definable goals to bring out the best in us and push us to apply self-discipline in reaching them. Jesse Owens summed it up well: “In order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, & effort.” The mechanism to reach our goals will chisel our character and force us to live according to our priorities.
But what happens when the goal is reached? Where do you go from there? Sure, there are new worlds to conquer, new heights to reach but that may ring somewhat hollow. Instead, you might consider how you can adopt a lifestyle which enriches everything you do, a way of life which makes every day a reward unto itself.
By adopting certain everyday practices, you can build on your achievements. Here are some suggestions for incorporating growth into everyday life:
- Make your decision once. When I get up in the morning, I don’t decide whether to go to the gym based on how I feel. I long ago decided this is what I would do barring severe illness. If you are wanting to study, or practice some talent, or learn, then decide when and where you’ll do it. Just once.
- Dream big. You need small successes but you also need to set goals that are difficult to reach. I have a friend who is spending much time preparing for an international piano competition in a couple of years. He says: “First, you have to accept yourself where you are, not where you think you should be. Then, you just have to decide you’re going to put in the time. Not many are willing to do that.”
- The world is your canvas. Rather than viewing life as something that happens to you, decide how you will make your mark. What impression do you want to leave and what do you want to have contributed when your time on Earth has passed.
- Use good tools. The technology at our disposal today gives us unprecedented access to information and entertainment. Unfortunately, it also provides huge potential for spinning off into a world of YouTube videos, blogs and microblogs, and meme-filled distractions. (I know this well.) Thus, content aggregators like Feedly can help you focus on the topics aligning with your goals.
There are many ways to hack your life. My primary suggestion is that your life carry out your deeper purpose, and that your life, soul, thoughts, and actions all be in sync. In the end, what you do every day of your life will determine more than one particular success.