Small victories

I don’t really like weekends. I mean, yes I do like weekends and I like to just relax and enjoy life but I generally don’t feel good about myself at the end of Sunday if I just kicked back and did nothing for two days – whereas I feel really great after a Tuesday of good work. That’s my thing, I need to get stuff done.

I started my company more than a year ago and working for myself is probably one of the hardest thing I did in my life (but it’s also one of the most enjoyable!). I can’t count the number of times I failed. Actually I noticed that it’s quite easy to think of all these failures and just spiral down an endless state of pessimistic laziness. My brain is wired like that: if I don’t make an effort it focusses on all the crap that I get into instead of moving forward. I hate being in that state… It’s worst than just failing, it feels like another layer of failure bullshit on top of what I’m already dealing with… You know what I mean?

There is only one way to go around that: focus on your successes. “Oh really, that’s it? Well, since you’re so smart Manuel, why don’t you tell us how to do this? Because it’s easy to say to focus on your successes but you don’t know my life and everything went wrong today…“. Ok… First, let’s redefine the term “success”. Success is not a goal, it’s not a state you will attain at some point, it’s a process. Let’s say you want to become one of the best iphone app programmers around (which is one thing I’m working on), well, it won’t happen in one day. But perhaps you can read 30 minutes about app development and practice for an hour today. If you consistently do that, you’ll make progress. But you can’t expect to become one of the best and just kick back. The more you progress, the more you have to work on how to continuously evolve. See what I mean? There is no big success but just an accumulation of little successes. So when I say “success” I mean the process or the little steps of this process.

Even if you work on your big life project every day, some days will just be plain shitty. It’s normal to fail and deal with crap, that’s how we learn, right? The simplest way to increase your chances of keeping a successful state of mind is to multiply your activities (the multipotentialites can help you with that). This is why I’m working on becoming one of the greatest app developer but also on growing my company, working on my client projects, writing on this blog, studying to become a yoga teacher and generally hacking/improving my everyday life. With more activities, I just can’t expect to fail at everything everyday (or that would be a very shitty day, but even in that case I’m pretty sure there would be something positive aspects in all that mess). So every night, when I go to bed, I have at least one (if not many) small victory(ies) to focus on.

I use these pieces of software (Things, Re.Minder and Lift) to remind me to do things… Because I can’t rely on my brain to remind me what I have to do and also I don’t want to clog my thoughts with stuff that can be automated. For example: if I don’t practice my handstand every day I tend to forget how to do it well and I go backward. That’s why I have a reminder to practice handstands at least once a day… It doesn’t have to be long, it just takes me 30 seconds in the morning, then I check it on Lift and I already told my brain “See, one victory!”. Here are examples of other activities I told myself to do every day… (some are work related, some concern more my personal development, other are just habits I’m trying to build…)

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(alternatively, you can also play this song every time you succeed at one of your everyday task)

It’s really that simple: make a list of small steps you have to work on every day and get as much small victories you can. Pretend it’s a game, just focus on that. If you just get one done, that’s already great… It will keep your success momentum going.

Do you already have a list of small steps you work on? Are you planning to make one? Share some of these steps in the comment section… It might inspire others.