WARNING: This article describes the most common story of most peoples’ lives
We always find ourselves setting new goals, to do lists for the day and all that nonsense (no it’s extremely helpful, I just love to say the word “Nonsense” for no reason) to keep ourselves in check and productive throughout the day. But, since we are human beings, we often times fail to achieve these goals.
Let me give you a story about myself, a run of the mill human being:
I have been learning Spanish on the side. To be an educated African, by default, I know more than two languages (3, actually). Now I want to learn another one, a fourth one. There is an amazing app by Duolingo. As you learn a language, there is something called a streak (basically a way to keep score). Let me explain:
When you do a minimum of one lesson to completion today, you add 1 to the streak. Even if you do 50 lessons by the end of the day, that still counts as 1.
If you do a minimum of one lesson the next day, add 1 to your streak. At the end of it all, if you do a lesson each day to completion for 7 straight days, the streak is 7, 8 consecutive days gives you 8….. The caveat is, you have to do a lesson each day to add to your score. Assuming today is Friday, if you do a lesson today, on Saturday, Sunday, and skip Monday, your streak will be broken. On Tuesday, it will be 1 instead of 4. If you miss one day, you lose the entire thing. It can go for as long as you want and there is no limit to the streak. I hear Japan has the highest average streak (no surprises there).
Back to my story; I did a lesson each day for 45 days, then I missed one day because I was so drunk (I was celebrating finishing an exam). I went back to square one, literally. I was so angry with myself…
I accepted failure, embraced it
I felt guilty for a few days about losing my precious streak, I didn’t do a single lesson for about two weeks.
Then, one day I was bored so decided to do one lesson. It felt nice coz I learnt a few words so I decided to do a few more. I realized that, after all, I had learnt something. I dusted myself up and got back on track and now my streak says 4.
That slip up was 3 months ago. Such a poor record, right? NO! I am very proud of myself. You see, nowadays, I don’t care about the streak but I practice regularly, like a minimum of 5 days per week. I feel very happy.
When I slipped up, I tried to build up another streak and instead of learning the language, I was busy making the numbers. I did 25, then slipped up again, then did 17… until I realized that that was horsesheet. Now I just have fun and I am making better progress.
Change your Mentality
I am not a bastion of success since I am still very poor with my Spanish but I am learning. My dream is to one day be so fluent, I will seduce a young beautiful Latina and it will be so shameful because I will be old enough to be her father or grandpa (abuelo); so essentially, an old, chubby but charming bastard on holiday with zero morals. Of course I will ensure that she is of legal age.
Sorry, I got carried away there but the thing is, I realized that even if I don’t do a big number on my streak, that’s okay because the most important thing is to learn. If I wake up in the morning having not learnt Spanish the previous day, I can still smile and do a few lessons today.
If you have a list of things you want to do to make yourself a better person, eg, learn a new skill that will make you money or further your career, or working out, but you miss a few days or weeks and get derailed, don’t beat yourself up, just make sure you do it today. If you start off the year saying that you want to start working out and do well for 3 days and miss the 4th one, don’t beat yourself up. Go to the gym on the 5th one or the 6th one.
I Promised Myself Never To Use Clichés
The lesson we should get out of this is: Do not try to be perfect. Life is irregular, unpredictable, messy, unfair and NEVER PERFECT.
Dios Mio!! That feels like a big facking cliché!!! I am sorry I put you through that. I am so disappointed in myself.