"Think progress, not perfection" - Ryan Holiday.💡
Small, consistent amounts of work contribute far more than sporadic high-volume, followed by burn-out, frustration and stagnation. I really love Atomic Habits by James Clear, this book explains how tiny habits turn into big returns in the long run. Clear explains that our habits form a "system" by which we run our lives, he says "we don't rise to the level of our goals, we fall to the level of our systems." More on this another day, I hope to write a review on here.
Here are some of my favourite Ps:
Three key words.
PERSISTENCE wins over talent on so many occasions. So many gifted people give up quickly on their dreams, because they can't see a clear path. Maybe you listen to and believe that negative voice that wants it now, now, now - and is ready to give up and deem you a failure at the first hurdle. Someone makes a small negative comment, it's internalised and your power is given to them as you give up. If the "why" is big enough, the "how" will make itself apparent eventually. Even if you don't see the end result on the horizon, but you keep going in the direction of something that you're PASSIONATE about, you will get there and enjoy yourself along the way. But you also need PATIENCE. Rome was not built in a day. Tony Robbins says 'most people overestimate what they can do in a year, but underestimate what they can do in ten.' One foot in front of the other, one decision at a time. Life is not a race to the finish.
So, how does this work for lockdown?
Remove the pressure. As Clear says, think more systems than goals at this time. Let's put more of a self-care spin on things.
It seems like a long period of time, but maybe the goals you've thought about setting aren't realistic in that timescale, leading to overwhelm and avoidance. Lockdown may be months, but maybe your plans take years. Be realistic, think consistently. Little and often, not big and blowout. Think about your PASSIONS, what YOU enjoy and what makes you happy and benefits your wellbeing- this trumps ALL. This is not a self-worth exercise, you are not out to prove that you are valuable; you already are.
You don't need to come out of this fluent in three languages, able to do the splits, lost 20lbs and a neurology expert. You don't need to keep up appearances for social media.
BUT maybe you could start reconnecting with something you're passionate about or prioritising self-care to take forward into the future, potentially when you're back in practice. Maybe you can start some habits that will take you towards your goals in the longer term. Set the solid foundation systems for a platform further down the line.
Think about one or two things you could do on a daily basis, that will help towards your goals in the long term. Something achievable, and easy to fit in. James Clear talks about the 2minute rule, and how new atomic (small) habits should take you less than this time to make them as doable as possible. Personally I usually work on a slightly longer time scale, but I still try to make this as easy for myself as possible. For example, if you want to go walking every day (very simple example - could be yoga, running), set yourself the task of putting on your walking shoes and stepping out of the door (or maybe walking for 2-5minutes); some days you will carry on, other days that is all you do. With this system, on the days lacking motivation, you can still manage the criteria and you are mastering the art of consistency and showing up. Again, make it as easy for yourself as possible - leave your shoes by the door. We are a reward-driven species, so consider tick sheets to track your progress and even loyalty systems to yourself; transfer money to your holiday account when you've stuck to it for two weeks. Set your own criteria. The book covers many more techniques such as habit-stacking and more - well worth the read.
As I have said throughout, this is not about hard work or productivity, it is small changes that have cumulative results in the long term. These are results that benefit you positively, with self-worth in mind. This is not to prove you are valuable, this is because you do value yourself. You are a valuable, unique human being and your worth doesn't need to depend on your length of service, letters after your name or your ability to backflip. Maybe we could all use lockdown to set some healthy habits or effective systems that move over into the long term.
Personally, I have been using this theory in terms of our house. I consider this to be an indirect type of a self-care, but it certainly has impact on my wellbeing. I often become so enthralled with tasks that tidying up falls behind, and I have felt in a battle between liking a tidy home and continuing with the work that I love. I started to get resentful spending a whole day tidying up, for the same situation to occur in two weeks. I do not envy anyone with a busier household than ours. I took inspiration from Louise Littler's The Organised Vet and considered what ways I could make my house self-cleaning (check her Facebook group, Veterinary Life Organisation Group - full of lots of tips from the hive brain). I utilised what I had learned in Atomic Habits alongside Louise's work and I was so pleased with the results. I looked at small systems. This started with having a speed clean before bed (started at 2minutes, and now 10minutes) and being mindful when I've finished with plates and dishes to go straight to the dishwasher. On re-reading this paragraph, I sound much more adult-y than in my head!
How could you use progression over perfection?