Video: Do Something EVERY Day.

2010 Happiness Challenge: For those of you following the 2010 Happiness Project Challenge, to make 2010 a happier year – and even if you haven’t officially signed up for the challenge — last month’s theme was Attitude, and last week’s resolution was Make the positive argument.

Did you try to follow that resolution? Did it help to boost your happiness?

This month’s theme — the final theme for 2010 — is Boot Camp. This week’s resolution is to Do something every day.

If you want to read more about this resolution, check out…
Do something EVERY day.
Do you have trouble sticking to your resolutions? Turns out that it really does matter.
Frustrated? Stuck? Put yourself in creativity boot camp.

It’s time to start thinking about the 2011 challenge! Just a few weeks until the new year.

* Sign up for the Moment of Happiness, and each weekday morning, you’ll get a happiness quotation in your email inbox. Sign up here or email me at grubin at gretchenrubin dot com. I just started this — and am thrilled that thousands of people have signed up already.

  • For so many habits, this is a great strategy. But, Gretchen, how do you deal with this for an activity like blogging or novel writing in which inspiration/creativity is a necessity? What if ideas just don’t flow every day? How do you cope with this as a blogger?

    • gretchenrubin

      For me — and I think this is true for many people — having to write EVERY
      day actually boosts creativity. By staying deeply involved in a project, you
      keep it at the forefront of your mind, so you’re always thinking about it
      and generating new ideas. There’s no inertia about jumping back in. The need
      to come up with SOMETHING to write means that you can never stop thinking!
      And that’s when big new ideas arise.

      For my books — wholly apart from blogging — I write something EVERY day,
      and I’ve done this for years. I always want to be in touch with whatever I’m
      doing. Even when I’m on vacation, I usually tinker with some little thing. I
      find that this helps me enormously — both with productivity and creativity.

      I have friends — a novelist married to a painter. They talk about “working
      for ten minutes” — meaning that when they’re deeply involved in something,
      they can sit down and be productive for just ten minutes, because they are
      so “in” the process.

      • Thanks for the tips! I’ll have to try that.

  • The Contrarian

    Excellent post, Gretchen.

    To expand on your “do something everyday” mantra – consider this…

    A penny a day compounded daily is worth $5 on the 5th day and 5 million on the 30th day. Einstine reportedly called compunding the 8th wonder of the universe. Anything can be compounded – including small incremental actions, which seem meaningless in the short term, but compounded over time can add up to big results!

  • kant

    Please, stop stealing Buddhism thoughts… or at least give credits to Milarepa, Buddha, et alia!!

    • Kris

      I really doubt that Buddha would mind.

  • I do love the resolution to do something every day… I’ve done it for years keeping a journal (which inspired my blog!).

    However, one thing that I find priceless is the warm-up time before starting to do something every day. If I get an idea and decide to start working on it the next day, I’m much more likely to fizzle out on it than if I decide a purposeful time to begin it – like at the beginning of a month – so that I can build up an anticipation for the new habit. Deciding when to start and sticking to it is still essential, though – otherwise it gets slipped into a “someday” category that never comes!

  • Cam

    Gretchen, I had a question for you about your overspending/underspending theory. This might make a great post (or at least I’d like to hear your response!).
    I’m an underspender too, like you, but I have found lately that I hoard any coupon or discount and feel obligated to spend just in order to use my coupons/special! In the long run, I feel I am actually spending more money because I am buying items I sometimes don’t need that much, or I’m just pressuring myself to shop! Like…got to go to the mall before this coupon expires, got to spend the full $75 so I can get the discount, etc….
    I am feeling tied down to my coupons! The non-stop e-mail ads and mail-order catalogues don’t help!
    I’m considering just throwing away all coupons altogether (well, unless I know for sure I need something and was already planning to buy it, such as pants for work, and the coupons actually help me get more/save money). What do you think about this? Is that a good idea, to just forget about coupons totally? I think maybe the thrill of saving money is addicting too, but I’m not actually saving money when I’m spending more than I intend!

    • gretchenrubin

      Whether or not to abandon coupons would depend on the person — but from the
      way you describe your situation sounds like they are NOT helping you save
      money, but are costing you money, and consuming a lot of time and mental
      energy as well.

      A friend of mine — who loves bargains — said she had a revelation when she
      came home with an unlikely pair of shoes and told her husband, “They were
      50% off!” and he said, “That means they were 50% ON.” For some reason,
      thinking about it that way clicked, and she has a much easier time passing
      up on sales that seemed too good to miss.

      • kant

        Dear Gretchen:
        Sadly you don´t do what you foster.
        Why we must pay you to reach happiness?
        Why you steal buddhism wisdom and do not give credits for it?
        Almost one year waiting for a response…

        • gretchenrubin

          You don’t have to pay me — read the blog for free! Or not!

          I often discuss ideas from Buddhism and elsewhere, and always try to give
          references to show the trail of thought.

          • kant

            The problem is that most of the concepts you talk about are mere rewritings of Buddhism treatise.
            There is nothing original inside your blog!
            Even worst, you offer free samples of your books, but I must pay you for the next chapters…
            Gretchen, you really wish our happiness or our dollars?

          • gretchenrubin

            I’ll let my work speak for itself.

          • kant

            Your work was written centuries ago.
            And for free!

        • truly happy

          Why wait a year for a response that isn’t what you are seeking anyway?
          Why ask for credit to be given when you clearly know where it is due?
          Why complain about the cost of something when so much more is given for nothing?
          Why spend your time pretending to be a Buddhist when you are simply a malcontent?

          • kant

            You never talk to me, so, don´t assume that I am buddhist.
            Seems to be that you are too blind to see, or, worst, ignorant that what Gretchen is doing is a mere rewriting of buddhism concepts. Even more, I had been waiting for almost a year for a response why she do not want to share “her wisdom” for free.
            Why we must pay to Gretchen for writings that had been written centuries ago?
            truly happy, go to the original.
            Please, Gretchen.
            Be original.
            Do not steal.
            Please, again.
            Be original if you can.

  • A great tip. The power of momentum! I’m someone who doesn’t generally like routine but I’ve found that building small routines into my life can have a really big impact. Soon they become habits and we hardly need to think about doing it everyday, it just happens naturally. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Maura, Chicago

    I find that some things that you would like to be doing each day or feel you should be doing….don’t seem to fit into the day. I was seeing a voice therapist for a voice problem and I wasn’t practicing between sessions. She asked why. I claimed I didn’t have time and I truly felt that way. She pushed me to realize that there is time for everything if it is a priority. There is time in my day, I just chose to use it for other things. She asked me to actually schedule my voice training into my planner and now I am doing it everyday. Seeing it written there gives it more weight and I get it done! I am thrilled that just a small adjustment like writing down my daily task, was able to really make it a priority for me! Oh, and I make my bed because of the Happiness Project every day. Now let’s see if I can reframe making lunches in the morning for my 2 girls….I hate doing that!

    • gretchenrubin

      Yes, I often have to schedule things like dentist’s appointments, just to
      make sure I fit them into my day.

      I used to think “I’m too busy” all the time. Now I try to remind myself, “I
      have time for the things that are really important to me” to make sure that
      my days reflect my priorities. It’s so easy for the urgent and immediate to
      crowd out the long-term and the important.


  • Gretchen, this is sort of off-topic, but I must tell you how beautiful you look in your videos! You’re very good and natural on-screen.

    • gretchenrubin

      Awwww, thanks! I really appreciate hearing that.

  • MH

    This is a great reminder. I find the same is true of my children, as well. If there’s something I want them to do (e.g., read to me, set the table, etc.) it is much more effective to expect and require them to do it every day, rather then just ‘most of the time.’

  • I have been trying to use this philosophy in exercise. I am bad to put off exercise, waiting for the “perfect” time. I make myself put on my tennis shoes and sweats each morning, and get on the treadmill for 15 minutes. That’s all I *have* to do. Once I get on, I usually walk for 25-30 minutes, but I just tell myself, 15 minutes every day.

  • Becky Simer

    How does one “practice” or “learn to” love oneself, if that does not come easily?

  • I really like this post and this idea, but I’m tempted to make excuses, like this requires “all-or-nothing thinking,” insofar as you have to do something EVERY day to make it work. What if you mess up? What if you fall off track? I guess maybe falling off the track is an important lesson, too, because we learn that we are not perfect and how to cope with that.

    I just struggle with the motivation to begin new things, and committing to something I’m not sure I can do over a period of time.

    Sometimes I have to remind myself that I am strong and I can do what I put my mind to.

    I like Maria’s suggestion of starting something on a specific date to get warmed up for it. This echoes what Gretchen said in her video about overestimating what we can get done in a short time and underestimating what we can get done in a longer time. It shows that we can wait for something important to begin and can take a large perspective on life.

    Sometimes, we just have to jump in.

  • Miss Heidi

    I was going to blow off going to the gym – and then I saw your video. Thanks for the ispiration!

  • Hi Gretchen.

    I am going to go ahead and try this with running every morning. Hope all goes well.

  • Lou stackler

    Dear gretchen:
    I think your ideas are great yet one way to make yourself happy is to gain the insight to selflessness as a concept and practice this as often as possible. You can serve people in many ways and what you do is great. have you ever thought of mindfulness meditation? Please let me know where you usually give talks as I want to listen to you some time. lou Stackler

  • Greatfulcards

    There was a year I exercised every single day and I found what you said to be true. I need to just do it every day and it will become routine again and the weight I put back on will shed itself again 🙂

  • Great topic! I have enjoyed the vigor that doing something daily brings to a resolution. Some examples: I did NaNoWriMo in 2006 or 2007? Don’t have date at hand…I Did two No spend weeks this year (not spending ANY money for a full week). I quit smoking. I feel it was WAY easier to quit every day than to have the odd one… Getting adjusted to not buying new stuff this year got easier day by day of not doing it every day…And when I have gotten on the daily blogging band wagon it pays off. You get into a groove. If you miss a day, it feels easy to miss two, then you become precious about what you are writing and it gets harder. Kind of like a kid skipping school, it gets harder to go back. Like you need a good excuse before you can return.
    Thanks for your always inspiring posts,