We all have goals we are actively working towards. Maybe for some of them, we have been planning and pursued for years. Maybe you want to be better at your job and you are expanding your knowledge and skillset to be eligible for more difficult projects. Or maybe you have personal goals – either in the form of a passion or building a healthier lifestyle for yourself. Whatever it is, having a desire to grow and improve is a part of being human. It is something that is absolutely necessary for you to feel fulfilled in life.
When the entire world is affected by a drastic change of pace it is so easy to give up on our goals. They can seem somewhat unimportant in the grand scheme of things. Yet we adapt and make the most of what we have to work with. Especially in the IT industry, you have no other choice than to persevere.
Where do you want to be in a few years? Yes. It is very much a cliche. And yes – how can you plan for five years ahead when you don’t even know when it would be safe to return to work as usual? But you need to remember one thing. Wherever you end up in five years, will be entirely dependant on your actions today. So…
Be the best you can be today
The truth is, that if you want to one day give back to the community and be in a position to help others, you must first make the most of the resources you have
Focus on what you can control
There is so much you cannot control. But you can still control your mindset in the crisis as well as your response to it. What you do every day matters. Each day adds on to your personality and skillset, so you should make the most of it.
Do you have more free time than usual since you do not have to commute? Invest it in building a new skill! Don’t just spend it all on Netflix. Do you feel like you do not have energy throughout the day? Make a grocery list of base ingredients for meals that are healthy. Have you been complaining that you don’t have enough time to pursue a hobby? Now you do! So make a subscription to an online class platform like Skillshare and Udemy!
You cannot control when you will be able to return to normal. But you can control yourself to stay home, be cautious and make the most of the time you have to grow as a person.
If you want to become better at a certain activity, you need to practice it. If you are trying to play the piano, spend time to learn how to read music. Spend time as often as you can to exercise what you learned and apply it to your playing technique.
If you want to be more flexible, then stretch often – a few times a week. The longer the periods between stretching, the more time it will take you to reach your goals.
But you have to be consistent. Picking a skill up then dropping it will only get you to the point of starting over all the time.
Managing goals and habits
If you are anything like me you have a variety of different interests. And maybe some of those you want to pursue as a hobby and be able to talk to someone after a while and tell them: “Look what I learned to do in quarantine”.
But the more things you want to do – the harder it is to maintain them all in a busy schedule, so you should probably only focus on a shortlist – or at least practice a few that are complimentary. For example, stretching and weights training are both working towards a bigger goal overall. Also the gains in one area transfer to the other to a certain degree. That being said, you can probably afford to skip one for the sake of the other every once in a while.
If you do choose to pursue various habits, then you should try the micro-habit structure. It is based on dedicated a minimum time on a consistent basis, that relies on the build-up over time. For example: If you want to learn a new programming language, you can spend 15 minutes every single day to learn something new about it or practice with example tasks. In a week, you have spent an hour and forty-five minutes on your goal. And that, in turn, adds up to seven hours a month! Yet, the daily goal it is so easy to meet that it doesn’t have a toll on your daily life.
There are two main benefits of the micro-habits methods. It is so easy to maintain, that you will almost always meet the minimum goal you set for yourself. Which directly transfers in the form of consistent improvement. The second one is that chances are if you sit down to code for 15 minutes if you are really into it you might go on for longer sessions at a time. If you add only thirty minutes per week (five minutes here and there), this gives you an additional two hours every month you spend building your chosen skill.
The two-day rule
Regardless if you are looking to build one big foundational habit, such as waking up earlier, or working with micro-habits, it is important to have an accountability system. As much as we can achieve amazing things if we put in a little bit of effort consistently if you do not keep track of your actions it is easy to fall off-track.
In this case, the two-day rule is your best friend. Yes, things will come up. Some days you may not feel so good. Other days you may be busy with work and other commitments. Or sometimes you may be too tired of working on the same thing all the time and need a step back. So setting up a system that does not account for days off, is not only unreliable, but it sets the bar so high that when you inevitably skip, you feel like a failure. And the fear of failure is easily one of the biggest reasons people quit trying.
The two-day rule accounts for taking days off if necessary. But it is also a contingency plan that you will get back on track with your goals the next day. So, if you choose to skip on practising your habit today, you have to do it tomorrow. You are not allowed to skip two times in a row. This maintains your momentum with consistency while, releasing some of the built-up pressure of never allowing yourself to take a break.
Dо what you can
Yes, it may not seem as important right now, but you taking care of yourself today will make you a stronger, better version of yourself in the future. So what you do today matters. But be reasonable with what you expect of yourself. Don’t overload on everything you want to do all at once or use it as a distraction from your feelings and processing what is going on in your life.
Do as much as you can every day, as little as it may seem – it will add up and it will make a huge impact on your life for years to come.