I’ve read countless quotes extolling the power of our thoughts, and certainly, they’re important.
But not nearly as important as the habits we practice. This is because a small change in our habits can quickly translate into a huge change in our thoughts.
Let’s use an example. Perhaps, like me, you yearn to write a book. We may think about the book frequently, visualizing the lives impacted by our message and our name on the bestseller lists.
Each time the thought of the book floats through our mind, we choose to practice the habit that follows.
1. We may practice delaying, focusing on all the reasons that now isn’t the right time. We don’t feel ready or “good enough,” or we don’t think we have enough resources. Whatever the dream is, its immediate afterthought focuses on why it should wait.
2. We may practice escaping, numbing ourselves to avoid the pain of regret. We tell ourselves that our dreams are foolish. Instead, we should be satisfied with living vicariously through our friends on social media and reality television. When that doesn’t work anymore, we turn to food and drink and other vices.
3. We may practice failing, spending our precious time and energy planning countless contingency plans for when something goes wrong. We convince ourselves that we need to understand and prepare for every step in the process before we can started. For our book, we’ll need to know how to find an agent, get published, and design our promotions, so we research those from every angle instead of simply writing.
I’ve spent lots of time practicing all three. And then I realized there was a fourth option.
We could choose to practice daily success.
This is different than dreaming of our name in lights. This is choosing to dream about the daily work that’s required before any of that is even a possibility. It’s decidedly unsexy and boring, maybe even ugly. It’s an acceptance of the notion that anything worth doing is worth doing poorly at first. It’s an acknowledgement that failure is likely to be experienced regularly, and a choice to reframe it as feedback.
To practice this habit, we set aside time to “show up” each day and leave our excuses, our fears, and our inadequacies at the door. We visualize ourselves doing the work, day after day, until it’s done and the next step is revealed.
In essence, we simply avoid practicing delaying, escaping, or rehearsing failure. Nearly all other practice is positive.