This post is part of a 31-day treatise on habits. <— Click there to see all the posts. One of my favorite quotes of all time is this:
“Nothing surely is as potent as a law that may not be disobeyed. It has the force of the water drop that hollows the stone. A small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labours of a spasmodic Hercules. It is the tortoise which always catches the hare.”
[Anthony Trollope – We Have Met the Enemy: Self-Control in an Age of Excess, 2011]
A law that may not be disobeyed, a small daily task: sounds like he’s describing habit to me. 🙂
As a writer, I am very inspired by Anthony Trollope. He would rise early every morning at 5.30 to write (paying a servant an extra $5 a year to bring him coffee). He wrote 47 novels and 16 other books, mostly while holding down a full-time job for the postal service.
“Three hours a day,” he declared, ‘will produce as much as a man ought to write. But he should so have trained himself that he shall be able to work continuously during those three hours – so have tutored his mind that it, shall not be necessary for him to sit nibbling his pen and gazing at the wall before him, till he shall have found the words with which he wants to express his ideas.’
Two things I love about Trollope: first, the fact that he was able to become one of Victorian England’s most prolific writers, even though it wasn’t how he spent the majority of his hours. As a mom who has to squeeze in writing time around my primary occupation of “homeschooling stay-at-home-mom”, I am so encouraged by that. And obviously Trollope felt that 3 hours a day was enough, since while he went about his other activities he was forming thoughts that would eventually make their way to paper.
Secondly, he demonstrates that daily tasks (habits) are potent. While we may overestimate what we can do in a day, we often grossly underestimate what we can accomplish in a month or a year of small, daily effort.
Here’s that quote again:
A small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labours of a spasmodic Hercules.
Who is a habit mentor of yours?