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)

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Work like you’re on holiday

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I always do some work on holiday. Much of our first #wiredwomen conference happened via twitter on trains in Europe. Last year ExCo (that would be me and Dunne) had a great strategy session at the Palace while both kids were at camp. And this year, in between walks, chilling and putting body and soul back together, we sharpened our vision and redesigned our website (still to be revealed) It’s the kind of thinking that we seldom have time for during the year.

It feels a bit like tidying my desk on a Sunday in preparation for the week ahead. It’s hard for a chaos junkie like me to learn this lesson, but as Gretchen Rubin author of the Happiness project says “outer order contributes to inner calm”

I know that many people disapprove (I am rapped over the knuckles by well-meaning friends and family when they see work-related status updates on facebook) but the truth is, I find a creativity and clarity on holiday that often escapes me in the hype of the year.

In fact my best ideas probably happen in between. Often I’m able to accomplish more in the few hours the family is still sleeping on holiday than in entire days spent slogging at my desk. Which makes me wonder of course how efficient I might be if I worked a whole lot less during the work year, played a whole lot more, went for more walks and gave myself the gift of uninterrupted extended relaxation time more often.

And that will be my resolution for 2014. To bottle this feeling and try to organize my year as if I’m on holiday the whole year through

Wish me luck – I’ll keep you posted 🙂