Jay Shirley

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The Daily Practice

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Benefits of success.

Published: 16 Feb 2012

It was a really, really bad night. The software I was writing wasn’t working. My laptop lay dead, its hard drive not working. I wanted to be done and my hard quitting time for the day was approaching rapidly. I really, really wanted to be done. I wanted it to all work. I wanted to leave victorious.

But I wasn’t. It was time. The kids needed their stories read. I had to. Family is the biggest priority for me. After the stories and the kids were in bed I resumed fuming. I wasn’t going to go back to get more work done but I knew my office was a mess.

One of my daily goals is to clean my desk at the end of the day.

I didn’t even want to be in my office. I was just frustrated and wanted to avoid it. I buckled down. I did it. I trudged into my office, and with the happiness and energy of a kid at a candy store I organized. I cleaned.

It was bad. I had screw drivers laying around. Tax papers I pulled out earlier. The bills and other letters from the day. The remnants from paying for our house painting. It was a busy day and I couldn’t even see my desk’s surface.

I devoutly follow a few general rules in life:

  1. Expect others to do to you what they do to others.
  2. Do more today in 5 minutes than I could yesterday in 6 minutes.
  3. Treat any activity as though I love it even when I hate it.

The last item is what this is about. I forced myself into enjoying cleaning. I made myself smile through it. I mean physically forcing myself to smile. It makes it easier to enjoy things you don’t want to do. Smile while you’re bleeding.

So I cleaned and I happily went to bed as soon as everything was put away.

The morning after.

I went to bed and my wife spoiled me with a wonderful foot massage. I slept a deep sleep; it was a sleep of frustration and energy combined. I dreamed of the code that failed me, but I was rested.

I woke up about 40 minutes ahead of my normal time, ready to tackle the day. Ready to fix what had triumphed over me the night before.

I walked into my office and sat down at my chair. I looked at my desk. It was so nice. It was clean. I immediately felt even better. I felt relaxed and serene.

In 30 minutes I fixed the problems I had with the software I was writing and my laptop was happily booting up on its new hard drive.

It was a good day.

I owe a great deal of my inspiration and motivation to my wife. She constantly encourages me and helps me in my efforts to improve. Without her I would have just had a nice, clear spot on my desk to slam my head into.