The Sunday Lao Tzu: starting small

(In the attempt to keep the blog fresh as I make the attempt to give you something new every day, I have decided to theme my Sunday posts arounds the teachings of Lao Tzu, the father of Taoism. Expect the Sunday X&HT to be a bit more philosophical, if not necessarily spiritual).

“All difficult things have their origin in that which is easy, and great things in that which is small.”

I don’t do new Year Resolutions, for the same reason that I no longer keep diaries. They always seem like a good idea, and I start off strongly, entering whole-heartedly into the agreement with myself to be a better person, to journal my every move. I have a stack of notebooks that have entries through the first week of January, an apologetic second burst somewhere in mid-February (when I was a teenager these usually coincided with Valentine’s Day, and consisted of bursts of woeful spite and, if things had been going really badly, love poems) then nothing. Rueful, shameful blank pages. Most of my resolutions have started and ended this way, and I view it as a sign of finally growing up that I stopped making unrealistic pledges that would be quickly abandoned.

I’ve realised that I was going about things in the wrong way. Rather than launching with both feet into a project and losing interest in the face of the hard and sustained effort that was required, I would have been better starting gently, easing into the task. This was a lesson that Lao Tzu teaches, but that Nanowrimo allowed me to apply to real life. By doing something every day, the task soon becomes a habit, then a part of your daily routine. No matter how little, the daily bit is the important bit. (Sidebar: yes, I know Nanowrimo is a 1667 word a day challenge, and that doesn’t sound like a little thing. By by breaking that task down into further 500 word chunks, it’s surprising how quickly you make your daily, weekly and monthly goals.)

The Habit is something that I hope to achieve with the PostaDay exercise. The point where I feel twitchy if there’s a danger of not posting is the point where I know I have accomplished something important.

When your objective stops being a chore, and becomes a daily pleasure, then you have succeeded in your goal.


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Writer. Film-maker. Cartoonist. Cook. Lover.

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