0 – Beginning

This is the second post in the series of Daily Habits, which is about a listing of useful habits that should be a part of a productive person’s daily routine. To read, you can start here.

One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. “Which road do I take?” she asked. “Where do you want to go?” was his response. “I don’t know,” Alice answered. “Then,” said the cat, “it doesn’t matter.”

Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

In the last post, we discussed about creating habits and accomplishing goals. Most people struggle with finding motivation for incorporating any rewarding habits and controlling impulsive desires, one of the main reasons of which is a failure to recognize that motivation is a directional quantity. If there is no direction, there is no motivation. Otherwise, you will find similar kind of recipes for overcoming procrastination from everywhere:
motivation feeds on action, create a workable plan, set deadlines for yourself, change things around, morning exercise, talk with yourself, and so on.

In reality, nothing matters if life does not have focus in the form of a great goal itself. Just like a car being driven towards East, West, North and South would ultimately go nowhere, there must be some objective/s towards which life should be purposefully driven. If you have some clearly defined targets in life, that is a good step forward. If you don’t, there is an easy method to figure it out.

Imagine that today when you woke up, you are 70 years old. You have all the time in the world to look back and reflect on your life: your achievements, your mistakes, your relationships, your career, everything. What could you think of that would have made your life worth living for? What is something that if accomplished would have given you an extreme satisfaction of having utilized your life to its fullest potential?

It is very important to sit down tonight without any distraction, think about it with a paper and pen in hand and reach a certain decision about one or two most consequential ambitions in your life. This is a very vital time for your life. Because this is when the destination will be decided. Once that decision is taken, a significant part of your life will be spent moving towards that destination and hence it becomes extremely critical that there is no regret about the destination itself after reaching there. Remember what we said earlier: it should be something that should justify your existence.

A world of caution: it is best if the goals are related directly to where you are spending, or have to spend, most of your time. For example, setting a goal for becoming the greatest chess player of all time while serving full time as a doctor will make this process quite complicated.

Once that bridge is crossed, put nothing on hold. Wise people invest their time little by little on things that matter. Today is the day. Tomorrow is nothing. I always remember the conversation between Bilbo Baggins and Gollum on the shore of the lake in Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Gollum engages Bilbo in a game of riddles at which Bilbo proves his equal. One of the riddles Gollum asked was

This thing all things devours:
Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;
Gnaws iron, bites steel;
Grinds hard stones to meal;
Slays king, ruins town,
And beats high mountain down.

And the answer given by Bilbo was Time. Something which devours birds and beasts, gnaws iron and grinds hard stones to meal is surely going to beat us down as well unless we optimize its usage in our advantage every single day.

Finally, remember that it is difficult to improve what is not measured. Once you start on your journey of daily habits, use any note taking method to record a count of your activities. It can be confusing initially but after a few days, things will start making sense and targets to be achieved will become clearer.

From the next post, we will start the actual daily habits.

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