Do one hard thing every day. Some days, that may just mean getting up from the couch without using your arms! Other days, you may be ready for a bigger challenge, something you may define as “hard,” like cleaning out a closet or weeding out your filing cabinet. Researcher Angela Duckworth writes about this in her book, Grit. Her research reveals that “the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent, but a special blend of passion and persistence.“ At the end of the book, she shares what she does with her own children to develop grit. One family rule is that everyone has to do one hard thing each day. That seems like an interesting and do-able challenge.
Many of us have challenges naturally built in our days as we juggle our personal and professional commitments while keeping our sanity. Getting through the day without screaming at your kids or partner makes it a good day. You did not lose your cool and you get better at this. One morning you’re feeling very Zen on your ride to work and then some idiot cuts you off on the highway! You go from Buddha to putz in a heartbeat.
The benefit of intentionally setting personal challenges for yourself, even small ones, is that you actually do get better and stronger in the area of focus. This can be your abdominal couch workout or a bigger ongoing project like getting your paperwork organized. Once you start thinking about the task and decide that you want to be successful in this area, more ideas and solutions will start to occur to you, even when you’re not working on the project. This phenomenon occurs naturally as the brain synthesizes the ideas with which you’re working and organizes them into a workable system.
Often the inability to get things done is the lack of energy and focus. This is how you would incorporate the Duckworth premise: passion and persistence become energy and focus. For example, when we’re rested, it’s easier to be zen while driving. In an unbusy moment, you may realize that front hall closet just isn’t working anymore and then you can identify the particular issue, strategize and attack the closet. Often people complain to me that they are able to organize, they just don’t do it. Sometimes they are embarrassed, feel as though it is a character flaw. However when we tackle the project together, it becomes apparent that they do have the skills, it’s just that they have some impediments prevent them from actually doing it, like energy.
Sometimes people just need accountability. After having worked together, people will set themselves tasks to do before I return in two weeks. Many a time have they done these tasks the night before our appointment, because they know I’ll be asking about their progress! This is also why people hire professional trainers. Everyone knows how to do a sit up but won’t do it unless someone is watching.
So I encourage you to do one hard thing a day. Take it in steps, use focus, energy and accountability. You will be stronger in mind, body and organization. Happy organizing!