As I discussed in my daily action plan for 2016, I’ve been doing the same six things every day for the last 30 days (I started in late December). There hasn’t been much consistency in order nor particular time of day. I’m simply doing everything between waking up and going to sleep for the night. Overall, I’ve been quite surprised at how quickly the results have started stacking up.
The six things that I’m doing are:
- Read 20 pages
- Play piano for 20 minutes
- Express gratitude
- Make the bed
- Meditate for 2 minutes
- Write at least 500 words
In all honesty, it has been quite a challenge, but I’ve seen some pretty incredible results that come along with these daily practices. My goal is to continue doing these six things for the rest of the year, but here’s what I’ve found after just 30 days:
I’m getting better at piano. I’ve been able to practice some patterns that I wasn’t able to do previously. I play boogie piano, which is a pretty aggressive form of piano music. My arm would get tired and I didn’t quite have the coordination necessary to play for very long. It took about two weeks to go from hardly being able to do it at all to relatively solid. In days 14-30 I’ve become more consistent and don’t lose rhythm as much.
My writing speed has tripled. When I set out to write at least 500 words per day I did so with the idea that I needed to generate a lot of content. Writing for my book, my upcoming course, blog posts, and guest posts would likely take up all of the 500 words per day and more. The reason I made this commitment is because it has always taken me quite a bit of time to write blog posts. I’d generally have many breaks while writing or various distractions that occur during the process.
The amazing outcome of writing at least 500 words every single day is that I’ve become much, much faster at writing and even more focused while doing so. It has seriously helped me establish the habit of just sitting down and writing instead of thinking too hard about what to write. It used to take me half a day or longer to write an 800-1000 word blog post and now I can do so in less than an hour. I didn’t notice it until about 20 days in or so, but there has been an obvious shift in my ability to write faster and it’s been really great. As I continue to write for the rest of the year I hope this trend continues.
I’m reading more than ever. When I started out reading 20 pages per day, it didn’t feel like I’d be making much progress. It really didn’t seem like I’d be moving through books very quickly at that pace. In the past, I would read very sporadically and often not finish books at all. Well, I can definitively say reading 20 pages per day has absolutely blasted me through books. After 30 days, I just finished my second 300 page book – which is way more than I’ve read in any 30 days prior. I’ve also noticed that this practice has helped me in other areas as well — consistently taking in new information from the same sources has allowed me to compound the data in my head. It has helped me reach my own conclusions and give me ideas of what I want to talk about here on the site. Reading daily has really boosted my writing practice as well.
I’m mailing more cards. For 29 years of my life I was pretty terrible at mailing thank you cards. While I would feel gratitude and express it over the phone or via email, I really don’t think I was expressing it in a very meaningful way. To this day I don’t know why, but I’d always feel a lot of resistance when it came time to write thank you cards. I just didn’t want to do it. With the approach of expressing gratitude daily, I’ve taken to writing cards and truly enjoy the process of doing it. After receiving a postcard late last year from my friend Cat Snapp it really helped me realize the significance of getting something unexpected in the mail. When you take the time to reflect and put your appreciation down into words, it really means a lot. There’s a huge benefit to me as well, as expressing that gratitude and reflecting upon it makes me quite happy as well.
I’m starting every morning with success. It may be small, but making the bed every morning has been a tiny change that has a big impact. It’s an act of beginning the day and being able to check something off my daily action list right away. I’ve learned to enjoy the process and like to make sure the bed looks really nice before I move on with the rest of the day. I’m not sure what it was, but something eventually just clicked and I started truly enjoying it. It was a similar experience to when my perspective flipped on doing laundry after reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
I find a moment of stillness every day. Let’s be real, two minutes is not very much time to spend meditating. I had originally wanted to do 20 minutes of meditation but ended up skipping it for several days before officially starting this project. In order to beat resistance, I decided to lower it to a stupid-easy amount of time, just two minutes, so that I would feel ridiculous if I didn’t do it. That has indeed helped me do it every single day, but I’m not sure that I’m seeing any life-changing results from doing it. I am fairly certain that there will be tangible benefits as I increase the time up to 10 and 20 minutes, but for now, succeeding at doing it every single day is what’s important to me right now.
I’m pleasantly surprised at the benefits of doing these six things every day. The best part is that these are all things that I would continue doing every day in just about any scenario. Even if I won the lottery and never had to work for money, I’d still do all of them. They’re all things that bring me great joy and allow me to work on what matters most to me. By starting on these things now and doing them every day, I’m working to build a foundation of daily habits that will eventually become my vision, the ideal day I’m working towards.
I would highly recommend picking even one single thing to do every day. It may not seem like much, but after a few weeks the results will truly compound and make a lasting difference in your life.