Beginnings, challenges and opportunities

With the new year we all set out for our resolutions.

But really how many of us follow through? What actually makes us stick to these so-called resolutions?

If there’s one thing I’ve learned after a few years of experimenting with countless morning routines, workouts and working schedules, is that there’s no way in hell you can stick to something simply by projecting a thought of determination. Settling on something with your mind is just the tip of the iceberg.

I’ve come to appreciate the power of challenges lately in joining Ryan Holiday’s 14-dat stoic challenge.

I’ve always been quite fond of challenges now that I think about it. Anything structured that allows me to simply follow a sequence of trigger and action (or inaction sometimes), is what my introverted mind craves so I can follow through with most habits I develop. The reward is also important of course, but rarely it’s the most important of the factors. Especially the first few days.

The first few days always suck.

And that’s where things get interesting. The first few days is where I have to pay attention to the change happening inside my brain, the shift from one way of being to the next as a consequence of my new-found , still developing habit. This change and the process of noticing it should be the reward I think. Not some final state, or realization. This is where we can gather the most important lessons from.

As one of the daily challenges I chose 5 books, some of the most influential ones I’ve ever read, that I will commit to re-read in 2019. It’s about deep reading, not just skimming, and writing about it is one way for me to go deeper. The first book of choice was “Think and grow rich”, the 1937 classic by Napoleon Hill. After reading it something like 2 years ago, I realized a ton of stuff is now jumping out of the page as if it was the first time reading it.

The process is now more apparent and noticing makes me appreciate the habit I’m creating.

One of the stories at the beginning of the book is about opportunities and how they present themselves in disguise, right before you can reap the rewards.

Hill talks about Edwin C. Barnes, Thomas Edison associate who, after working on trivial tasks for the inventor, spotted an opportunity dressed as a crisis and a failure. He was able to sell Edison’s Ediphone when all other salesmen thought it wouldn’t have been worth it. And here’s what Hill says:

When opportunity came, it appeared in a different form and from a different direction than Barnes had expected. That is  one of the tricks of opportunity. It has a sly habit of slipping in by the back door, and often comes disguised in the form of misfortune or temporary defeat. Perhaps this is why so many fail to recognise opportunity.

And as I’m rereading this quote I truly believe we see in many aspects of life. Even when I’m out running and i set a goal for 6 km. If I haven’t been training for a while (which has been the case lately), I feel like I’m about to die around km 4 or 5. Then if I stick with it, something clicks and I go on autopilot until completion. Or the time I wanted to challenge myself and go through a 30-day workout program called “Military Fit“. Every damn time I was about to give up and I pushed forward, I’ve noticed that “click” feeling that kept me going.

I guess then it’s true with habits, with learning skills, with any endeavour that challenges us out of our comfort zone – we have to be able to stick to it until we spot the opportunity, the “click” and I think one way to do that is to really love the process and immerse ourselves into it.

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