Doing Something Once Vs. Doing It Every Day

The older I get. The more I think about the following: It doesn’t matter what you have done. But what you keep doing consistently that counts.

This is easily sensible in all types of sports.

I mean, you can’t win an Olympic medal if you train once. You need to show up every day to have a chance at qualifying – winning is a whole other thing.

But this rule is equally true for everything else:

  • Doing one good thing doesn’t necessarily mean you are a good person.
  • Reading one book doesn’t make you a reader.
  • Writing a page doesn’t make you a writer.
  • Making a sale today won’t mean that you will stay in business if you don’t keep selling every day.

Therefore, the hard thing is not doing something once if you want to maintain good results.

It’s doing the same thing over an agonizingly long period of time. And more importantly, keep doing it despite the obstacles, the lack of positive feedback, and the absence of results.

Here’s how things work if you do something once:

Doing Something Once

seeking instant gratification
Focusing on the results alone without discipline leads to mediocre results in the future.

You go to the gym once. You train. You feel exhausted, but good. However, you don’t see your body transforming from a jelly-like substance to a well-oiled machine.

No big arms. No abs. No extra attention. You are the same horizontally challenged person – but sweaty.

Therefore, you quit.

OK, you can a couple of extra times, but if your perception about exercising is that you should get fit fast, you won’t last long in the gym.

Big corporations rely on our tendency to want quick results.1

That’s why the commercials these days look like magic.

After all, only magic can explain their exaggerated statements like: “Get this mystical set of equipment. Use it only once per day for 5 minutes and voilà. A set of abs replaces your beer belly.”

Of course, we all know what happens. The thing you bought eventually becomes an expensive decoration. And then, you start using it exclusively to hang your clothes.

But there is something else. You know that getting in shape requires a lot of work. Logically, it makes perfect sense. But your desire for quick results is so strong that it pushes all rational thoughts to the side.

You self-convince yourself that what the commercials say is true. You say that you want to lose weight. But you don’t want all the hassle around getting in shape – going to the gym, the diet, etc. You want to get fit fast. That’s why you end up buying all of these shady tools.

Sadly – or not – nothing can replace the simple showing-up everyday framework and mentality.

Here’s how things work when you do work consistently:

Doing Something Consistently

How you act in your lowest moments determines your highest moments.

Your first visit to the gym is a catastrophe. You are exhausted. Everything hurts. One guy actually was going to call an ambulance at some point because of your heavy breathing.

You keep going, though.

After the first couple of weeks. You feel better. You’re no longer throwing up after each session. And you now add weights when you are on the bench.

A couple of months later and you are already helping other newbies in the gym.

Everything feels scary at first. But not everything stays scary.

Here’s an example everyone can relate to: The more you get to know someone. The more you learn about them. The more you are drawn to them. Eventually, you can even love them. And who knows, even marry them.

The same is true for the things we do.

I still remember when I first started blogging. There were so many different terms. So many different tools to learn how to use. So many strategies to follow to write something worth reading. It felt that I was never going to accomplish anything.

What happened a few years later?

My articles are regularly going viral.

Contrary to what you hear online about “best” approaches and “ultimate” guides. The results I’m seeing today are based on pure boring work.

There is no magic. No fancy spell. No secret techniques.

I wasn’t doing something exceptional to get to here.

I simply kept doing.

The problem, or the question, of course. Is how to keep doing the thing despite the lack of results? How to keep practicing when our motivation is low?

After all, we are result-driven animals.

We are preprogrammed to do things that give us something in return.

When we know that there are fruits in the dark forest. We’ll take our chances. If, however, we are not quite sure. We’ll prefer the comfort of our current location.

For instance, you probably love playing basketball. Since you were very little, throwing the ball and pretending you fly like Jordan is what keeps your spirit up. However, with time, if you don’t see results from your efforts. If your coach is no longer cheering you. You will probably stop pursuing this professionally and focus your efforts on getting a 9 to 5 job.

But should you really give up on your dream? Or, should you keep persisting – keep trusting the process?

And most importantly, how can you keep your motivation high when everything prompts you to quit?

How To Keep Going Even When We Don’t See Results?

How to be consistent and turn into a disciplined person in a world promoting distractions and endless entertainment?

How you can keep your motivation high when everything prompts you to quit?

These are great questions. Let’s take a look…

Simple things work best to keep progressing:

  1. Choosing something you are genuinely interested in.
  2. Breaking big goals into smaller ones.
  3. Blocking toxic distractions.
  4. Preserving a can-do attitude along the way.
  5. Following your dreams instead of following how others achieve theirs.

But there is one component that you absolutely need: Being part of a supporting group.

You need someone to pick you up when you trip and fall into the pit of mud.

Someone to give you a pep talk, even if you don’t think you need a pep talk.

Someone to clear the fog so you can again see light at the end of the tunnel.

Or in other words, the people who stand beside you can make what stands in front of you possible – even if initially felt impossible.

Personally, my buddies. The people who keep me hooked on this journey of creating a library of ideas are no other than the writers of the books I’m reading.

I know. It might feel like a one-sided way of communication. After all, technically, I’m only consuming the information they’ve written down without the ability to ask questions but for me, it doesn’t feel that way.

The knowledge printed in the books I’m reading keeps me inspired. Curious to learn more. To do more.

And while joining forces with other like-minded individuals and supporting each other is probably the best way to keep moving forward. Not everyone can afford it. Not everyone is lucky enough of having friends who are interested in the same thing you are interested in.

Fortunately, these days, we can easily create our own academic commune.

Form a group of top-achievers who gently – or not – push us while we are climbing the seemingly ever-distancing peak.

So, if loving the process no longer seems possible. If despair has permanently settled in your head. Create a salon of people who are either doing what you want to do or people who have done it in the past.

What I’m referring to is to read the manuscripts of the greatest people in your field of choice. And, connect with folks who are looking for similar results as you.

I’m a firm believer that we become what we consume. That the people surrounding us play a huge role in our journey towards our goals.

If you consume more information about the skill you want to master and associate yourself with people doing the same. You will eventually master what is that you want.

Don’t let the unexciting circle of people currently around you prevent you from achieving exciting things.

Whenever you feel down. When results are barely noticeable. Remind yourself of how long it took your heroes to become everyone’s heroes.

When you don’t stop when others stop, you become unstoppable.

Now stop, and read the above line again.

When you don’t stop when others stop, you become unstoppable.

Some Closing Thoughts

Doing something every day is hard until it’s not.

Eventually, if you stay long enough on the same road, you learn to love the process.

The problem, as we can all pinpoint: Is staying sane and grounded on your idea until it succeeds.

Deep down. You are hungry for appreciation. Starving for recognition.

You want your blog to succeed.

Your book to sell.

Your body to finally become a sculpture.

Your SaaS product to actually become a SaaS product – not just an idea in your head.

And you don’t want these things tomorrow. You want them today!

Yet, the results are still nowhere to be found.

Anyone can go to the gym once. Not everyone can wake up at 5 am and train like Dwayne Johnson (The Rock). Every. Single. Day.

If you are feeling like results are never going to reach you. And to prevent you from entering the rabbit hole of social media, quitting, or letting despair consume you – because that’s usually what happens when results are barely noticeable.

I want to offer a helping hand.

Reach out to me by sending an email to hi at (@) Share your project. What you are working on. Or what you are trying to commit to doing. Don’t try to make the email fancy. Simply send me your short (or long) story.2

I know that sending an email to a stranger is bizarrely strange. But I also know that we are more open to people we don’t know than to those we know all our lives.

Hopefully, I can offer a little nudge and lighten the weight of the boulder you are rolling uphill.

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  1. This Wikipedia article explains in short how marketers abuse our desire for quick results: “Marketers and retailers tend to exploit the impulsive shopping urge which is tied to the basic want for instant gratification.”
  2. This move, about sending me an email, was inspired by the following article: Unlearning Perfectionism. Fascinating read. Make sure to check it.
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