I’m nearly one month into my goal of “turning pro” by writing 500 or more words every weekday for a year. And I’m proud to say I haven’t missed a day yet.
But I’ve also had more than a couple days where I was tempted to write “word” 500 times in a row and call it good. I even started to get creative with it, thinking through different ways I could write 500 pointless words in a way that would be funny.
And then I brought myself back to reality and nixed the idea of turning my project into a joke.
What hasn’t ever happened over the past month is myself ever seriously considering skipping a day. I have never allowed But what if I don’t want to? to enter my brain.
Because I’ve removed skipping a day of writing from the list of available options.
And that, I think, is perhaps the most critical thing to think about when it comes to creating habits and striving toward a goal. We have to remove the failure to act as one of the options.
Just this past Friday, I had a fairly non-stop day of work with sales calls, follow ups, and planning. Fast-forward to 5:30pm and my wife and I were starting to get ready for dinner with friends when I realized…Sh*t, I haven’t written today!
And so I was presented with two options:
- Write what I could while my wife was getting ready.
- Write later than night after dinner and drinks.
I chose to make the most of this moment of urgency by sitting myself at the computer and writing about our belief systems, a topic I had been sitting on for a week. And it’s a good thing I did because I’m not sure what I would have published at 1:30am after perhaps a few too many cocktails at a speakeasy with great friends. 🙂
What never entered my mind was the option of not writing.
I had committed to the habit, and that sincere commitment forced me to sit down in the small window I had and make the most of it. I ended up writing over 1000 words in less than 30 minutes, and my essay for the day was out the door. I could indulge in my $15 cocktails that night knowing that the only thing I was shorting was my bank account.
I think we oftentimes confuse our aspirations with our commitments. We can aspire to lose weight. But until we commit to changing our diet and workout habits, that aspiration means nothing. We can aspire to starting a company or side project, but until we commit to taking action on that idea every single day, that aspiration means nothing.
Every Monday through Friday my options are:
- Write now.
- Write later.
There is no third option to not write. It’s akin to picking up my kids from daycare or brushing my teeth before bed. My desire to do either thing doesn’t matter. They must happen regardless.
If we want to change anything in our life, that seed may start as a desire. But it grows through commitment and action. But what if I don’t want to? has no seat at the table of commitment.