I HAD a busy day planned. But here’s what actually happened instead:
I woke up at about 7:30 am. So far so good. Got up, did 30 minutes reading, then another 30 minutes of writing. Holy shit I am nailing it. Got another set of work done, hit the shower, threw some eggs in the pan (not at the same time), washed, had breakfast, and got back to my desk. This day was on fire. I wrote down a list of things I needed to get done. I took a client call. And then did a little more writing. It seemed like nothing could stop me.
But then it all fell apart. Something happened. And 2 hours later, I realized I’d fucked off for half the day.
How I ended up on youtube I have no idea. Roswell? JFK? This is another one of life’s great mysteries. It honestly baffles me, but there I was. What was I watching you ask? Well, despite not owning a console, and despite not playing video games, and despite not enjoying it when I did play, I for some reason decided to watch a guide on how to beat the zombies mode in Call of Duty Black Ops III.
(So apparently the way you do this is you sort out the spooky demon rituals as early as possible. Don’t worry about the zombies at this stage and you’ll be sweet. – Visko)
But I didn’t stop there. Oh no, after learning this useless information, I ventured out into the world of video game design. Yeah, give me a break it was in the sidebar. Not only is this worthless knowledge for me, but it’s something with literally nothing to do with my life. Despite these objections, I strapped myself in and watched a 40-minute critique on the game design in the new God of War.
(His essential point was that, although narratively compelling, the game sucked a big one when it came to combat and was basically a 10-hour walking simulator. What a wild ride. – Visko)
After that, I did a bunch of things. Louis CK’s new standup leaked online. I checked that out. Despite what Twitter says it was pretty funny. I read some
news gossipy articles on Brexit. Then I realized I’d fucked my whole day up.
So I did -and this is the most important part- what you, me, and anyone else does in this situation:
I started feeling like crap.
THE SECRET TO BEING CONSISTENT
Everyone wants to be consistent with their work ethic. You set goals, you want to see them achieved. You have things you need to get done, you don’t want to see them pile up. But it doesn’t matter whether it’s going to the gym, getting work done, getting chores done, or working on something just for you… it just doesn’t seem to happen the way you want it to.
Consistency is the answer to this problem, but given it’s so simple an answer, why is it so hard to actually achieve?
First off, there are many ways to be consistent, but never having a bad day is not one of them. Here’s a maple-cured-bacon-wrapped secret for you:
You’re always going to have bad days.
You’re always going to have days where you goof off, jerk off, and fuck off your time till it’s all wasted, the day is over, and you’re going to bed way later than is a good idea.
And yeah, sure, I know I’m not the best person to say this. But take it from me, I know some seriously disciplined people, and even they suck at this. So if you feel like it’s just you… guess what, you’re not special. We all suck. Even Mark Wahlberg.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way. Here’s another super-secret:
Beating yourself up for having a “bad day” isn’t actually helpful and actually encourages you to have an even worse one.
When you get down on yourself for having a bad day, you only serve to make yourself feel more and more like shit. And when you feel like shit, the last thing you want to do is actually do anything effort related. It’s boring, why would you? Instead, you want to do something that makes you feel better. Like, y’know, watch that next YouTube video.
After all, it’s better than feeling like crap.
YOUR “BAD” DAYS AREN’T AS BAD AS YOU THINK
Having a bad day is normal, and ironically, given how I referred to them, bad days really aren’t bad days.
Family killed in a car crash the same day you’re diagnosed with herpes and go bankrupt? That’s a bad day. Procrastination and laziness? That’s a pretty normal day. It’s just not a good one.
Realizing that your bad days aren’t actually bad is a big step in reframing your negative “I’m worthless” state of mind. The same state of mind that’s only going to drag you more and more into the muck of procrastination.
Doing this is one of the basic skills of what I like to call Being A Better Friend To Yourself™. This isn’t positive thinking per se, more building a better, more realistic relationship with yourself and your emotions so that, no, you aren’t positive all the time, but you also aren’t unnecessarily negative to your own detriment.
It’s a big topic, and one I’m sure I’ll do an article on at some point, but the main idea here is that you put yourself on your own side, and reframe your own actions in a realistic light.
The other thing you have to do is actually recognize when your day has gone off-piste. You need to cultivate that voice that doesn’t say “you’re fucking it uuuup!!!” But instead says “come on, we need to do this instead…” and offers a soft, gentle, psychologically healthy helping hand.
Okay, so the day hasn’t gone according to plan. It’s not the end of the world. How can we make this day better?
This brings us to another secret. THE secret fo making yourself consistent:
Take your “bad” days, and make them as good as possible.
Let’s be honest, your good days take care of themselves. They’re not where your focus needs to be. You know when you’re having one, and what you need to do get takes care of itself. It isn’t about as having as many good days as possible. It’s that your bad days, or rather normal days, are as good as they can be. That’s what you want to focus on.
You do this in a few simple ways:
- What are the bare minimum things you need to achieve? Really think about this. No, restrain your ambitions for a second. What is the BARE MINIMUM you need to achieve?
- Do these things move your life forward? Don’t bullshit yourself. I mean actually move your life forward.
- What do you need to change right now in order to start doing them? I.e. if you’re buck ass nude, haven’t showered, and it’s 3 in the afternoon, maybe sort that out first.
This might sound simple, or even incredibly small, but there’s a reason for that. It’s incredibly easy to make a “bad” day a lot better. You just have to DO something. It just feels hard when you aren’t.
MAKE IT EASY ON YOURSELF
The way you get consistent in life is by managing your “bad” days so well that despite them, they don’t get you down, and you still get something done, you still produce something, and you still move your life forward.
Sure, they still suck. Sometimes. But you can still do something.
This is the heart of consistency. You’re not consistently leaping through rainbows, working like a dog, and have the discipline of Batman. You’re just consistently moving your life in the direction it needs to go.
Some days it will be big leaps. Other days it will be little steps.
As long as you aren’t stuck in the same spot, or worse, dragging yourself down. That’s all that matters.
And now that this is out of the way I have a Splinter Cell speed run to watch.