Habits

Today was a 40 hour day for me. Literally - I’ve been stuck in April 8th for 40 hours. 24 hours everyone faces, but I got an extra 16 hours thanks to the time difference between Tokyo and San Francisco.

For the first time ever, my train from Shibuya Station to Nippori Station in Tokyo was late last night, and I missed the last train from Nippori to Narita Airport. I spent the night huddled in a small 24 hour McDonald’s before taking a 5:07 AM train to Narita early this morning to make my 8:55am flight. I made it, and was soon on my way to Seoul for a connection to Los Angeles. From LA, I finally made it up to San Francisco, where mostly exhausted from jetlag and a general inability to get any quality rest for the past few dozen hours, I pumped out some much needed work before rushing through my daily checkin post so I could finally go to sleep.

But wait - my daily checkin tells me I need to make a blog post every Monday and Friday. Today’s Monday. And that leaves me with a tragic conundrum. On one hand, I desperately want to sleep. On the other, I’ve neglected posting on this blog for almost the entirety of my 19 day trip to Japan, and I’ve entirely broken this habit of posting, among several others (like brushing and flossing my teeth twice a day…yeah).

Till this trip, I had an unbroken record of posting every Monday and Friday. I went on the trip with several well-known bloggers - Leo from zenhabits, Tynan from tynan.com, and Sebastian from sebastianmarshall.com. Being veterans, they all had their own ways to deal with the traveling conundrum - Leo introduced several guest posts, and Tynan had implemented a habit of writing a post every day and only publishing the best, so he had a comfortable countless number of blog posts to choose from and schedule in advance for the trip.

I wasn’t so fortunate. I’ve been barely scraping by on my posts, and so when the trip came, the frenzy and flurry of it hit me hard and I completely abandoned this habit that i had carefully built up over the past few months.

Today was harder than ever to get started on a post, with sleep dragging on my back and my habit shredded to pieces and me effectively starting from scratch. But it’s precisely because of that that this is the most valuable post I can make - for myself, as well as anyone else who happens to stumble on this, because this is the first step to getting back on the wagon.

By writing this post, Friday’s post becomes immensely less challenging and much more likely to occur. And by penning a post on Friday, the following Monday follows suit. Then Friday again. And Monday. And Friday. And Monday.

Habits are crucial to almost every aspect of life - they signal our comfort with a way of living. If we exercise every day, at some point we’re so comfortable with it it takes very minimal willpower to get going. This is how I imagine monks can become so content with an extremely ascetic lifestyle. If you meditate for 16 hours a day and eat nothing but gruel, at some point I imagine it’s easier to do that than to do anything else.

The familiar is what becomes comfortable, and what is comfortable is what is easy. Writing blog posts is no longer familiar and comfortable to me, as I’ve been out of the habit for so long. And that’s why I’m choosing to write this post instead of sleeping - if I failed today, my chance of failing on Friday significantly increases, and so too on the following Monday. And ultimately, as I recede further and further away from the familiarity of blogging, perhaps the blog itself would eventually become abandoned, as has happened countless times in the past for me.

For anything that we wish to do, we must make the effort until it becomes effortless, and it is precisely through that effort that effortlessness will rise.

 
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