I’d failed.

Id failed again.  And again and again and again.

I had only one task to do, and for years, decades, it had eluded me.  The pain of failure was hanging on me like an irremovable overcoat that buttoned in my desire to shine.

I felt the ache of continually butting up against an immovable object.

And that immovable object? My inability to do what I said I would do.

I was seated as an obstacle in my own metaphorical driveway, like a lump of rock that despite all efforts to move, shift, and even blast away via the use of drugs and alcohol, remained firmly fixed in place.

However as time progressed I found some things made me more energetic.  Some things made me more tired.  Over time I added more of the former and removed more of the latter.  I started getting up earlier.  I started having cold showers.  I started writing.

I stopped and I started and I stopped again.  Tens of times I stopped and started again.  Some weeks I would be motivated as I listened to podcasts about silicon valley greats and boxing coaches, others I would hide my head under the rock of work and sleep and try to ignore how ruined I was as a man.  How useless I was.

“A donkey” as my father would have said.  “A bloody useless donkey.”

I found something funny after a couple of years.  It was easier to get up earlier.  It was easier to jump into a cold shower each morning.  

Whether I was motivated was no longer a concern, the habitual nature of this practice made it “just happen”.

The seconds, minutes and hours over the preceding years had built slowly up into a critical mass, a mass that was cascading over my head and pushing me towards a goal that I had given up on.  I was surfing on a great wave of habit that washed me onward despite myself.

surfing huge wave

And then, this year, it all came to a head.  I spent seven consecutive weeks ticking ALL the boxes on my weekly goal lists.   The longest I’d had previously was one week.

Seven weeks!  This effect and the momentum that it generated in my life was nothing short of amazing.  I realised that all the stories I’d heard of the greats and coaches were only the 10% of the iceberg that we could see.  They didn’t show the pain, the uselessness, the utter redundancy of existence while trying to put together a life worth living.  They didn’t tell of the internal quicksand that sucked you down as you failed again and again.

What was the difference?

 My morning routine.