Daffodils, Duolingo and the power of really small goals

Some years ago, a beautiful story about planting one daffodil bulb a day for 40 years went viral. Although it might well be an urban legend, the daffodil principle remains a lovely metaphor about the value of doing something small but regular on a daily basis. Of course this is the same principle around compound interest – if we invest a small amount of money for a number of years, we will eventually be rewarded in years to come.

Nearly two years ago, I started learning Spanish on Duolingo in preparation for a trip to Spain. Two weeks learning was only enough to get some basic phrases under my belt (¿Dónde esta el baño? quiero la cuenta por favor) But it was such fun that I kept it up and now have a fairly decent vocabulary. This year I started some conversational Spanish classes and my teacher was surprised with what I’ve achieved with an app and fairly regular practice. As someone who has never really been very good about daily disciplines, learning Spanish has been a satisfying experiment in my own personal daffodil principle.

Writing mentor Jeff Goins talks about the value of starting small.  I’ve always had a tendency to over-estimate what I can achieve in a day and underestimate what I can do in an hour.

But the trick I’ve learned, is to take really small goals or chunks of time and turn them into a daily discipline.  Author Fiona Snyckers told our book writing circle to write just 300 words a day – so much more accessible than the loftier 1000 word goal I had in my head but have been finding tough to achieve.

Happy Spring Day to everyone in the Southern hemisphere. (and here is my 300 words for the day done and dusted)

4 thoughts on “Daffodils, Duolingo and the power of really small goals

  1. Hey Debby,

    Interesting, for me it’s reducing and maintenance of my weight. I find that going to gym is a memory task. Especially because I I want to do 3-4 things a and spend 2 hrs.

    I read someone’s T-Shirt which said “every workout counts”

    Here is to my new plan …

    • someone once told me that even committing to one exercise (like tummy crunches or squats) every day can make a difference. I listen to my favourite podcasts on the treadmill which I find really helps with commitment. Good luck!

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