A little more than a year into my focus on daily habits, the overall the results are encouraging. James Clear’s Atomic Habits poured gasoline on my focus on doing things that matter every day, beginning with small things like reading more, writing every day and exercise. It started with changing the routine when I got up in the morning, where once I’d consume sports media, check email, scroll through social media or play Words With Friends first thing in the morning, I started focusing on the very small habits that might move me forward. Exercise to get the blood flowing, reading to get the brain matter firing on all cylinders, and writing, to finally do what I’ve been putting off for most of my life. These aren’t everything that matter in my life, but they were the things I was pushing aside to focus on the other things.
Priorities remain: family and work obligations come first, but following close behind are the daily habits. In fact, each habit improves the quality of my life, which improves the whole. Pretty simple, really, if you just incorporate the right habits and build them into your routine. I’ve seen tangible momentum in all three, with the writing on this blog a measure of proof to consistency. You’ll have to take my word for it on the exercise, and just like the writing daily habits add up over time. I’ve seen the scale slowly – painfully slowly – showing consistent improvement. I’ll take that. I write a lot about writing, and walking. And then there’s the reading….
Once again the books are piling up, with four in the cue already I just purchased a Kindle version of Siddhartha by Herman Hesse and revisited Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath 1938-1941. It would be far better to finish one of the original pile before adding more, but so be it. Books tap you on the shoulder and tell you “It’s my turn” when they feel you’re ready. This morning Hesse and Steinbeck were both bullying their way into my reading time, and I welcomed them with open arms. My reading is accelerating, not by speed-reading (which I’ve tried but don’t enjoy), but through focus and occasional multi-tasking (reading on the Kindle app on the iPhone while in line at the store, and more frequently, reading with maximum font on the treadmill while churning out steps). Consistent, daily reading has been one of the best things I could’ve done for myself.
So what else matters? Plenty. The world is getting exponentially better in many ways, and sliding into the abyss in a few ways. If you want to improve the world around you it starts with contribution. The more you do, the more capacity you have to contribute more; more effort, more money, more intellectual horsepower, more empathy, more credibility, and more time. Ironic, isn’t it? The more you do the more time you’ll find for the things that matter. And there’s plenty that matters, if you take the time to think about it. And that’s where I find myself today, thinking about it and taking a small measure of action, one step at a time.