As a writer, when I put something out into the world, I’m never quite sure what will resonate most with people. For instance, of everything I’ve written, “The days are long but the years are short” is probably the single phrase that has struck people most deeply. (If you’d like to see my one-minute video The Years Are Short, it’s here).
After the publication of my book Better Than Before, my book about how to change your habits, I was very surprised that one single phrase seemed to hit really hard with a lot of people.
It’s part of my Habits Manifesto: What I do every day matters more than what I do once in a while.
For me, this idea was very helpful, in two directions.
First, it’s a reassuring thought when I screw up.
When I’m usually pretty good with a habit, but I stumble along the way, it’s good to remind myself, well, what I do most days are more important than what I do once in a while.
If I exercise most days; if I usually arrive on time; if I’m usually able to refrain from snapping at my family members, that matters more than the few times I drop the ball.
On the other hand, it’s an important reminder that a heroic effort once in a while is unlikely to do me much good.
Going for a long hike once every few months isn’t going to do me much good, if most days I never exercise; going to bed on time once every few weeks won’t make much of a difference if I usually stay up long after my bedtime.
If something’s important to me, I try to figure out a way to make it part of my ordinary routine — because what I do every day matters more than what I do once in a while.
If you’d like to see a copy of my Habits Manifesto, you can get it here.