Iteration


Every day, you change as a person. You do something just a little different than the day before. It’s not large. In mathematics, it’s called an infinitesimal change. Day to day, this change is so small that it is difficult to discern.

But string a few of these days together, until you have about one hundred days. Chances are, you have made some changes to yourself in three months. In fact, it’s almost guaranteed. Yet at the same time, it feels like you didn’t change from one day to the next. The transition was so smooth and fluid, you did not even notice there was a transition.

Think of a circle. Imagine you’re at one point on the circle, and that each day, you move to the next point on the circle. Day to day, you won’t see much change in terms of your position. However, give yourself a long time, and eventually you’ll see that you have gotten far away from where you originally were.

The changes we make to ourselves aren’t noticeable in the march from one day to the next. You never noticed yourself grow taller, yet here you are now, most likely a good deal taller than you were as a child.

This idea has made me start to think more deeply on what we do, and how our lives are shaped from the actions (and more importantly, habits) we do every single day. The people we become tomorrow are forged by what we choose to do today. This is such a simple thing to grasp, but it is also so easy to just let our minds go on autopilot, letting ourselves wander through our days with no defined goals or destinations. Today becomes tomorrow, which becomes three months, and then before we know it five years have passed.

In my reading, I’ve come across the idea that we overestimate what we can accomplish in a year, yet we severely underestimate what can be done in five years. If true, it’s an interesting situation that begs the question: how can time slip away so fast and make us think that we cannot accomplish great things long term?

In my mind, this issue seems to revolve around having a goal for what you want to accomplish. However, this is still not enough. It’s not good enough to say that you want to improve a certain aspect of your life. In addition to that, you need to create some sort of plan to achieve that goal. A fantastic goal needs a fantastic plan. Without one, your goal becomes a simple pipe-dream. There’s no substance.

Each day, we make choices about what we do. We can either repeat our actions (which eventually turn into habits), or we can do something new. Either way, we are iterating. However, this iteration can happen consciously or subconsciously. Simply by the ticking of time, we change. Therefore, we have two paths that can be taken. On one, we are reactive, taking in the various challenges of the day-to-day and going through our lives with the “just get through this day” mentality. Or, we can choose the difficult path, the one of taking the time to make a plan for what we want to become. To consciously iterate, every single day.

We know that the better path is the latter. Despite this knowledge, we don’t act. We don’t think that today will have an impact on fifty days down the road. And for the most part, it won’t. However, what we don’t realize is that the most important thing that you can do today is generate momentum for tomorrow. This is such an understated idea that it is worth repeating.

The most important thing that you can do today is generate momentum for tomorrow.

There is no day that is particularly special. Except for the day that you begin, most days will be relatively similar. Sure, I have days where I’m running a workout versus a long run or an easy day, but I’m still getting out the door every day. That part hasn’t changed.

At this point, I’ve generated so much momentum that I know I will go and run the next day. I don’t have to worry that I’m going to stop and derail my training. But I can’t say the same about writing. Truth be told, writing has been a passion of mine that hasn’t been easy to continue. Writing (like most things at their most infant stage) is difficult to sit down and do, time after time. The urge to write comes in spurts, and not nearly often enough.

I say let’s be done with having the “urge” to do something. Instead, we need to create plans to become the people we want to be. Let’s use that constant iteration to our advantage. Don’t let it take advantage of you through your subconsciousness. We can decide what we want to do, and all we need to do is choose to be aware of what we are doing, each and every day. I can guarantee you that it will be a lot more work and will be tiring. But when you look back, only fifty days from today, do you want to be the person that went and used those fifty days to his or her advantage? I’m betting you do.

It all starts with one step. One day. And then, extended beyond to infinity.

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