When I was in grade school, my parents gave me a Gameboy Color for my birthday. It was summer, so I had all the time in the world to play Pokemon. I’d sit around the house, staring at the screen. And when that got old, I’d go to my friend’s house and play it there. Eventually, his mom would tell us to go outside. Thankfully, my Gameboy could go there too.
My parents decided this could not go on. They instituted a new rule. I could start the day with a half hour of games, but after that, I’d have to earn each additional half hour with a half hour of reading. It was awful.
With time, I outgrew the rule. But it was probably the most important policy ever implemented. Not only did it inspire a love for reading, it also made me think differently about time and how I was spending it.
Seth Godin writes:
“…the long run is made up of a bunch of short runs. That seems obvious. The surprising thing is that we live our short runs as if that isn’t true.”
And author Annie Dillard:
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing.”
That’s not to say you should spend every hour of every day engaged in some productive pursuit. You shouldn’t. But pay attention to how you’re using your time. Because the easiest way to finish the big project you’ve been putting off is simply to start. Break it down into parts and make something small every day.
If you’re not sure how, Tyler Cowen suggests:
“…ask a simple question: am I building something? Whether it be a structure, an institution, or simply a positive idea, proposal, or method. The answer to that building question may not always be obvious, but it stands a pretty good chance of getting you to an even better question for your next round of inquiry.”
There is no such thing as an overnight success. Nothing important or good was ever finished in a single day, which is both disappointing and heartening. On the one hand, you cannot play Gameboy and expect your blog or podcast or book to start itself. But on the other hand, any progress you can make today is enough.
One step, every day, will eventually get you where you want to go.
Each Monday, I share strategies to help you pursue your passions. Try it. You’ll like it.