the next step after showing up

Published on April 15, 2020

Showing up is step one of making progress.

My first goal when starting this blog was to show up every day. While I have missed a few days, overall I am doing well on this goal.

Whenever I am building a new habit, my goal is to optimize for showing up. I want it to be as easy as possible for me to execute on a habit the next day, because the easier it is, the more likely I am to actually follow through and make progress.

However, once I have started to build a good routine, I need to start scaling up and doing more. Showing up to execute on a habit is not merely enough.

When I started flossing, my goal was to focus on a few teeth. Then, I decided to floss a few more over the course of a week, until I had cultivated a good routine. Flossing a few teeth each day was easy to fit into my schedule, but after a while my expectations changed.

In my life, I am always looking for opportunities to improve after showing up. This is because I strive to make progress as much as possible, and showing up only counts as progress when you are starting to build a routine. After a certain point, you need to do more.

The simple way of thinking about this is that cadence matters more than quality at the start, and then once you’ve built a cadence, you can optimize for quality.

In writing for this blog, my goal was to write one blog post every day, but now I am doing that, I am starting to experiment with new structures. I want to see what shorter posts feel like, and so I am trying to write one baseline post, then another post to experiment with a new structure. The baseline is my “showing up every day” goal. This post is the one for which I am seeking extra credit in my mind.

When I build new habits, I need to optimize first for showing up, and constantly remind myself of the fact that I should improve. What I have found is that the best thing to do is spend about a week building a habit, then try to scale it up, or to scale up your habit when you feel ready (if that happens in less time than than a week).

Progress is all about showing up, but after you show up, there are many opportunities to grow. I don’t want to think of myself as someone who just shows up and does the bare minimum. I want to do more with my time.

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Made by @jamesg_oca. Code on GitHub.