A long time ago in a blog post far, far away, I wrote about how slow and steady wins the race. I was making the point that often in life it can be more effective to make smaller but consistent amounts of effort, because sometimes it is easier to coax ourselves into doing things that way.
This morning I arrived at page 400 of the Warren Buffet book I am reading, and I was reminded of this point. In fact, this week I set a goal of reading 100 pages (the exact pace I suggested in the tortoise v hare post alluded to above), and–voila!–I hit it.
This book is 800 pages long, and though I am really enjoying it, I do feel that a bit of structure to the reading process is helping me get through it. At the pace of 100 pages a week (which is a quite leisurely pace of twenty pages per weekday), I will finish the eight-hundred page book in about a month. (Who knows? I might get a spring in my little tortoise steps, and get it done faster!)
Is this a fast pace? No! There are (many) readers out there who read books much more quickly. On the other hand, there a many perfectly capable people who don’t even start…
The point is, with this approach the book will get done. I have complete confidence in my ability to “nibble” my way to the finish line. Needless to say, this book has been completely worth my time, and I probably would finish it even without the relaxed approach. But it’s nice to have a system in place which is effective… and easy. Most importantly, I have read many more worthwhile and enjoyable books because of my personal reading system than I would have without it.
Never underestimate the compounding power of consistent efforts!
I have one more example of this principle: running. For four and three-fourths years, I have used a running app called Runkeeper to track my running. As of this morning, I have tracked four-thousand, eight hundred and sixteen (4,816) running miles on that app. That’s about one-thousand miles per year on average.
The interesting thing is that, to date, the longest single run I have ever done is…. fourteen miles. You read that correctly. In my entire eleven and a half year career of being a regular runner, the most I have run is barely more than a half marathon! (Side note: I am aiming to stretch that length this summer).
In fact, according to my Runkeeper app, of all my tracked miles since September of 2014 (when I got the app):
- 40.5% came from 5 to 6 mile runs
- 27.5% came from 3 to 5 mile runs
- 11.3% came from 2 to 3 mile runs
In other words, eighty-percent of my runs have been under six miles long (!).
If you are a runner, or have been around them, you might know that, while six miles is not considered a short run, it is definitely not considered a long run. So four-fifths of my runs have been what would be considered on the short side.
But I kept doing them. Again. And again. And again.
In the process, I probably out-ran most of the non-competitive runner community that is out there.
I’m not saying that to brag! Just making a point.
Take on something that matters to you. If it helps, take that elephant and nibble at it, one bite at a time.
Slow and steady (still) wins the race!