A lot us generally try to keep some ideas to start doing something from the new year onwards and generally fizzle out within a month or two. Typical resolutions are like getting a six pack abs, running a marathon, learning to play an instrument etc. Many times we will end up with abstract goals or hard to achieve goals without any second thought into how difficult it is to achieve it.
What is the best way to hang on to a resolution? It is simple, concentrate on maintaining a streak of doing simple things every day instead of signing up for a large goal. I was able to achieve many things by doing simple things but everyday. Sort of a deliberate attempt at improving everyday by however small percentage that was.
This inspiration was drawn from Seinfeld calendar which was pointed out by my mentor. Maintaining a streak will bring discipline and will allow us to remain focussed on what we had signed up for. I had initially set out a goal to learn a foreign language to a level that if end up in a country speaking that language then I will be able to find my way to navigate around.
I did not go very far in learning another language when I had a resolution year on year to learn something. Things changed when I converted that to a streak, I installed Duolingo app and maintained a streak of not missing a single day of practice of learning a new language. It takes as little as 5 minutes to maintain the streak everyday. To my surprise I realised that I can learn to speak more than one language in a year at a tourist interaction level without consciously eyeing for it.
Little drops make mighty ocean
I had other streaks which helped me achieve different things without consciously working towards it. One such streak is minimum one blog a month that I have hit 10 years this month, it has been one of the most rewarding streaks that I have ever pursued. Plan for your lofty goals but approach it systematically through streaks.
Recently we did some renovation at home which involved buying a few big ticket items. As I had read a lot about supporting local vendors, I drove to the stores after doing some browsing online on big marketplaces for options.
My first reaction on the purchase experience was the level of willingness to negotiate an offer when the bill is running close to a lakh. Every shopkeeper wanted to keep the conversation on the MRP, declining to accept credit cards or were trying to pile on more charges like delivery, installation etc when preparing the bill. In all, the transparency was poor and the mindset to extract as much as possible from a lead was set in stone.
The same I had observed from a medical store nearby, with aged people at home; the maintenance medicines for a healthy life add to substantial costs, so I tried asking the store keeper that I will place order with them month on month but let us work out a deal because the big medical chains give me 20% and I am willing to take a cut for convenience. The shop keeper flatly declined saying that he does not do business less than MRP and I can continue to shop at the retail chains, he does not need my business.
Why is this happening? We perceive a loss to be greater than a profit of same magnitude. Winning a gold coin may not be equal in magnitude of happiness compared to the sorrow of losing a gold coin. That is what is at play at the small vendors. They do not see the overall profit gained in the transaction instead they read the money lost on the transactions that could happen on MRP. This clouds the judgement even if this can tun into a repeat business with a steady cash flow.
On browsing more for stores, finally I found places that gave a good deal even bettering online deals. These were businesspeople who are in the same business for generations even though their turnovers were small, looks like the family wisdom is passed on as a trade secret and I ended up noting their numbers to give to friends who will have similar needs.
Even people who run a kitchen everyday underrate waking up to a clean one and often leave the dirty dishes in the sink and leave the counters unclean. This clutter over the course of the days will bring two major issues. It will lead to tiring because of cleaning up first on waking up even before a coffee and the other which causes the fatigue in the long run due to the cycle of clutter and improper cleaning. When you enter the kitchen, you should be able to make your breakfast or coffee just right away instead of cleaning the kitchen and washing the dirty dishes. I also some time ago, wrote about parallels in running a kitchen and programming.
What if the cook wants to keep the kitchen clean but work piles up so much that they have to leave a wave of mess behind to achieve the dishes of that day. It happens once in a while during feasts and festivals, which is often followed by cleaning up the mess and cooking a little light next day. As a routine, it is always best to clean up the counters, rearrange the utensils and clear up the dirty sink before going to bed every night. Waking up to a clean kitchen is something that has a cascading effect on the peace of mind because a day always starts good. So one cannot plan feast after feast without resetting the state of the kitchen.
This is what you will hear from Software developers, they are never allowed to prioritise to keep their code clean, they are made to pile on tech and architectural debt to prepare for release after release. Developers end up starting on a back foot and will be inclined to add more mess to the existing pile. I like the idea of how Basecamp has a cycle of big and small batches, this gives enough leeway to the tech team to prioritise between features, bugs and debts and keep a healthy momentum going.
Waking up to a clean code is also an underrated feeling, but it will leave a great positive impact on the team that lives in the code.