One Day or Day One? A very powerful question that we all should answer at some point in our lives. We always tell ourselves that one day we are going to hit the gym, one day we will quit the job we dislike, one day we will travel the world, one day we will quit smoking…you get the point.
I believe the main reason we fail at achieving these objectives is because our mentality is wrong to begin with. Everything is “one day”, with that day’s timeline unknown to us. We tell ourselves we’ll get to such changes in our lives this coming weekend, or on Monday morning when our new week starts. But when the time comes, we feed ourselves excuses as to why we should delay our objective another week, another month, another year. What we seem to forget is that waiting is a luxury we don’t have and can’t afford. Technically, all those changes I mentioned in the beginning of this post are improvements to our health, to our lifestyle, to ourselves. If we respect ourselves and our bodies, then why do we willingly keep deferring improvement to a later date? In the Discourses, Epictetus asks: How long are you going to wait before you demand the best for yourself?
There is only one thing standing between you and who you want to be or what you want to achieve: yourself. Change and improvement are not things that happen overnight, and are not things that will come served to us on a gold platter. But they are things that everyone is capable of if they put the right mindset to it. They are things we need to work hard for, and be disciplined enough to achieve. The good news is that the changes we make don’t need to be drastic. One of the biggest mistakes we do is that we try to change so much in so little time. We make new year resolutions such as “go to the gym 3 times a week”. While that is a wonderful target, it is practically impossible to keep ourselves motivated enough to actually go 3 times to the gym every week during a calendar year, especially if we are not accustomed to such activity. This is proven by the large number of people who give up 3 to 4 weeks into this routine. The changes we do and goals we want to achieve needs to follow the concept of compound interest, of which Einstein labelled as the 8th wonder of the world, the most powerful force in the universe and the greatest mathematical discovery of all time.
There is only one thing standing between you and who you want to be or what you want to achieve: yourself.
What I mean by compound interest is that the change you want to implement needs to be easier to adapt at the beginning, and more focused on a long term vision so that its effects will accumulate and lead to great results. Instead of going to the gym 3 times a week and giving up later as you’re not used to this activity, why not make smaller simpler changes to your lifestyle? For example, you can stop snacking/eating after 9pm, or you can avoid elevators and escalators and take the stairs instead. Doing this every day is a much easier change to implement and accept. Such changes don’t require us going out of the ordinary to find time to them, and with a little bit of a discipline, we can see incredible results. I personally lost 7kgs in the last 6 months by taking the stairs every day, and was surprised when I realized that I am climbing on average more than 45 floors a day through my daily commutes. I have not lifted any weights, haven’t subscribed to a gym, and haven’t forced myself to any high demanding exercise activity.
At this stage, I want to mention the story of the Lion and Gazelle. Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up knowing that it has to outrun the fastest lion to stay alive. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up knowing it has to outrun the slowest gazelle so it doesn’t starve. When the sun comes up, whether you are a lion or a gazelle, you better be running and achieving the most from your day. The world around you is running with you or without you. I believe it is obvious that we can agree it’s better you run as well. So stop having fear of the unknown and of taking risks, stop undervaluing yourself and pushing away possible improvements. Life gets more beautiful when you focus on improving yourself, and on exploring the unknown to see where it will lead you to.
Richard Williams, better known as Prince EA, has an interesting video on YouTube titled Why Most People Die Before 25, in which he asks: Where is the wealthiest place in the world? It’s not China, it’s not Dubai. To him, it is the graveyard. Because in the graveyard, you will find inventions never invented, business never erected, songs never sung, books never written, ideas never nurtured, people never realized…because they were scared to take risks, scared to go down an unknown path, or scared to make the most out of their lives. They kept pushing “day one” over and over again, until they ran out of days to push away.
The good news for you is that you’re not in a graveyard yet, and contrary to popular belief, life is not short. Life is long enough if you know how to spend it. In his paper on the Shortness of Time, Seneca wrote the following: It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested. But when it is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realize that it has passed away before we knew it was passing. So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it… Life is long if you know how to use it.
Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested.
With all this being said, I hope this will convince you to change your mentality from one day to Day One. Let today be Day One of working towards your objectives, towards improving yourself and making yourself a better person. Let today be the day you figure out what small changes you want to make in your life, and how to integrate them in your daily routines so you can reap benefits in the coming months. Remember that you don’t have unlimited lives, you only have one life…and this life has no reset button to it. Either you maximize your time and enjoy life to the fullest, or you don’t and run the risk of having regrets when your time ends.