Sometimes life feels like a struggle where every day is a battle you have to win. This feeling of always having to fight can be discouraging as it feels like you can never rest. Life is an eternal beginning. The “effortless” life, which the Chinese call wuwei (see article), is ideal since it is enough to perceive the ambient energy and to perform a kind of mental judo which allows us to take advantage of it. You could also call it the art of not resisting. In the end, what exhausts us is not so much the number of endless tasks we have to accomplish every day, but rather the fact that we are going against an ambient rhythm that we cannot control.
In order to create a positive spiral, it is necessary to start it as soon as possible by materializing “small victories” that will lead to others.
The energy that carries us is often due to our self-esteem.
If you love who you are, this love will carry you like fuel in a vehicle. To boost your self-esteem tank, you need to do things that you are proud of, but they don’t have to be spectacular.
Have small victories
Small victories are like sparks in a fire. For example, if you make a habit of making your bed and tidying your desk, you have started a momentum. The momentum you create is put to work on more substantial accomplishments. If you’re working on a big project, you need these small satisfactions to get your engine going.
Working on big wins
As you can see, your daily routine is similar to the cycle of a car: you have to go through different stages that consist of starting the engine and gradually shifting gears. To tackle a difficult task, you will have to go through several intermediate stages. You must be aware of your momentum. There is a daily rhythm and a more global rhythm. Your overall pace is determined by the amount of work you have done in the previous weeks (your inertia). There is an intensity that corresponds to a particular level of achievement. If you want to achieve the same results as people who inspire you, you will have to adopt their pace. For example, if you want to be a basketball player and your ideal is Michael Jordan, you will have to carefully analyze how hard he trains, how he rests, what program he adopts. You will most likely have to adapt it to who you are, but the amount of work should be the same. A simple formula in physics is: energy = power x time.
Energy is ultimately the result you want to achieve. Power refers to the effort you put in. Thus, over a given time, your results are the average of the efforts you put in.
The power of duty
When you have a goal, whatever it may be, it is important to associate it with the idea of duty. What does that mean? That you see it as a job, as an obligation, that you ultimately have no choice. It implies that there is no room for doubt in the execution. This is important because when doubt creeps into your mind, you spend more time thinking than anything else. When we leave no alternative, we go straight to execution. Of course, this may mean allowing for occasional moments of reflection. However, when your commitment is made, it’s best not to interfere with it by procrastinating.
When you commit to doing something, it gives you a framework, a guideline from which it is harder to deviate.
Let misunderstandings settle down to better respond to them
Very often, we feel obliged to react to the slightest frustration or problem. This attitude, while seemingly proactive and honorable, may not be the wisest or most effective. Time is an ally that comes to the aid of “good souls”. If you think you can wait, it is always better to do so, especially if it involves an important decision. Think of every situation as moving muddy water. If you know how to wait, the sludge will subside and you will be able to decide with more clarity.
Avoiding Pandora’s Box
Just as there is a positive spiral, there are also negative spirals. They appear when you make a bad choice that leads to another one like a domino effect. You need to identify as much as possible what could start this bad cycle. Sometimes it can be as small as that extra cup of coffee you don’t need, yet it will make you irritable for the rest of the day and prevent you from sleeping. The details matter. You can learn from your own past experiences with bad cycles, but you can also learn from the wisdom of others.
Limit the number of daily decisions
All of these recommendations are useful because they will give you automatic patterns that will limit your daily decision making. The more decisions you make, no matter how insignificant, the more difficult it will be to make good choices. Our will and our ability to decide are like a reservoir. This reservoir is limited on a daily basis. The more you draw on this reservoir, the more difficult it will be to make important decisions. This reservoir represents a capital to be protected on a daily basis.
Here is a summary of the things you can do to protect it:
- Create a positive spiral by doing small, beneficial tasks
- Focus on important work without deviating each day
- Maintain intensity in the work so that you have momentum
- Make a commitment so that there is no room for doubt
- Don’t rush decisions, let them settle: many problems solve themselves
- Avoid the pitfalls by not starting a spiral of negativity
- Limit the number of decisions made each day