Says the guy who publishes writing less than once a year. In my brain this little philosophy actually reads, “The things you do once matter not at all”, but that’s a less descriptive headline, so.
I’m talking about pursuit and achievement of long term-goals here.
Whether your goals are matters of fitness, business, music, finances, or anything else that will really make a difference, I think it’s important to understand that one-time, one-off efforts are roughly as useful as no effort at all. Maybe one day you pack lunch instead of buying it on your lunch break. Great. Do it again. And again. You just can’t move the needle enough doing it once. Maybe you practice bass for a few hours on a given Tuesday. That’s great, but you’ve got to keep it up. That tough workout? You plan to do it again in two days, don’t you? Don’t blow it.
It’s not all doom and gloom though.
There’s a truly positive element of all this that is worth considering. I’m definitely a fairly anxious person, and life’s mundanity can cause a lot of discomfort. This long game of consistency can provide some comfort from those problems. Once you internalize that it’ll take many days of consistency to get to where you’re going, you can turn that mundanity into a positive thing, in that you’ve been given the chance to chip away at those goals over and over again.
Furthermore, you can also use this concept to feel good about time off. The effort from that one prospective work day or week wasn’t going to matter too much by itself, anyway. Understand that and unplug.
It’s also worth noting that this position only applies to longer-term goals. When it comes to random acts of kindness, one-time events are hugely important. Try buying coffee for the person next to you in line. I know that when somebody does this kind of thing for me, my entire day is made. We’ve all felt that great feeling.
This is also one of my favorite qualities of musicians.
It’s one of the things that amazed me in my time at Berklee. I encountered people with drive and desire that I can barely describe. One such person is Matt Garstka, one of my roommates in my freshman year. Matt would practice for eight hours per day in many cases, only to return to his room to practice quietly on a drum pad. Here’s one of my favorite videos of Matt’s chops: