One big takeaway for me from 2017 was the idea that when building new habits, you have to start with quantity. Focusing on quality too early will impede progress.
As I started to increase my running last year, first for a half marathon and then training for a full one, I had to focus first on the total distance. I cannot run a fast half marathon before I can merely finish one consistently. Training has helped with this insight.
Experts recommend that you be consistently running 80 KM (50 miles) per week by the time you get to race day. In order to get to that point, I need to get comfortable running 15 KM at a time. And running 15 KM 3–4 times per week. As I build up my base endurance, I’m mostly running just to get the miles in. I’m not thinking about my speed at all.
Only as I get comfortable with these distances have I started to think at all about my time for a full marathon (for the record, anything under 3:30:00 will be a win).
The same thinking can apply to writing. Before you can write a good book, you have to learn to write a good 500 words. And before you can do that, you need to write 500 words consistently, period. And you have to learn to finish a book before you can focus on writing a good book.
As we’re right in the middle of the season of best intentions, I find this is a good reminder. For any habit I want to make stick in my life, I’m focusing merely on completing the activity. Quantity over quality, until it’s habit. Only then will I focus on improving how I perform the activities.
I won’t be running a marathon in under 3 hours in 2018. But I will finish the race.
That is my current focus.