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First, decide when to quit

I write often about my weekly routine and how effective it is and have even started a productivity club around it at the start of the year - The 0.7 Club.

There are many reasons why this works, but one of the key reasons is the timeframe of decision making and prioritization. By scheduling an hour every Sunday when I'm in a clear state of mind to make good long-term decisions, I ensure that what I want to do at any given hour of the week is not left merely to how I'm feeling at that time when I could be angry, happy, sad, frustrated or dejected. By ensuring that I take decisions on how to spend important hours of my week when I have a clear mind, I'm not allowing my momentary feelings to dominate what I do with my time.

As the ultra-marathon runner, Dick Collins, has said, "Decide before the race the conditions that will cause you to stop at drop out. You don’t want to be out there saying, ‘Well gee, my leg hurts, I’m a little dehydrated, I’m sleepy, I’m tired, it’s cold and windy.’ And talk yourself into quitting. If you are making a decision based on how you feel at that moment, you are probably making a bad decision."

And I have experienced this to be true time and again. There are often occasions when I don't particularly feel like writing, or going to the gym, or going to work, or reading that book, and yet, I do it because I have made a prior commitment to myself that I will do it.

It is true that the quality of work I churn out isn't great under those circumstances. I write much better and I read and retain a lot faster when I'm in the mood for doing those things. And I write crap and forget everything I read when I force myself to do it simply because I made a prior commitment to do it.

Nevertheless, the larger implication is quite different.

If I wrote only when I felt like it, the amount I write would reduce, and consequently, the amount of good things I write would reduce, and as a result, I would have progressively fewer occasions when I feel like writing, until it peters out completely.

And this is why most people that start off the year with a goal have had their interest in following through petered out by this time of the year (ten weeks in).

Only those with a commitment to see it through, aching legs or not, cold wind or not, dehydrated or not, will go on to reach their destination.

Do you feel your interests petering out? Have you been staying true to your commitments? If not, decide today under what circumstances you'll quit and then take up (or continue with) any task. And don't quit until those conditions are met. No matter what.

(Cross-post from my weekly mail to The 0.7 Club!)

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