I've gotten tremendous gains out of breaking actions that are easy to fail into multiple steps so I know exactly where things worked or didn't.
The one I've written about before is in regards to healthy eating. I split "Eat Healthy" on my Lights Spreadsheet into two things I try to do in a day:
1. Eat Healthy -- Plan
2. Eat Healthy -- Execute
In my experience, there's a tremendous difference between eating junk food as a result of no plan to eat healthy vs. a failure of execution and followthrough when you have a plan.
The vast majority of the times I've eaten poorly, it's been a result of not having a plan for where to get easy, fast, convenient good food. Transit days, the restaurant is closed, there's nothing in the refrigerator, or whatever else.
When I know exactly where good food is going to come from, it's very easy to follow through on.
But if I was only tracking if I ate healthy or not and say "No" for three days in a row, is it because of a lack of will or because of a lack of good options around?
Most people subscribe to the "Try harder!" approach to life. When they fail, instead of analyzing, they just say, "I need to try harder!"
This usually doesn't work by itself. Much better to dig into root causes. If I arrive in London and don't know the neighborhood I'm staying and eat kind of junky food for a few days, the way to fix that isn't try harder but to rather identify a mix of grocery stores and healthy restaurants nearby.
This applies as well for making progress on a big project, such as:
1. Major Achievement Defined
2. Major Achievement Completed
There's a large difference between not knowing the next step and failures that stem from that (confusion) as opposed to breakdowns of will or followthrough.
If there's something you're having a hard time sticking with, try breaking it up so you can see where things go off the rails. It takes very little effort and great increases success rates.
What's cyclothymia? It's a mild form of the docs used to call "manic-depression," but which they re-name periodically. Cyclothymics can actually function decently well, and as such often don't know they've got it. If you cycle through highs and lows, are particularly artistic, or that describes someone you love, then read this post in full and please comment with your own experience. I'm still learning, myself.
AN INTRODUCTION TO CYCLOTHYMIA
Knowing the term "Cyclothymia" would have been very helpful to me a few years ago. This essay is plain English and, if I've done a good job, might help people who associate with a cyclothymic relate better to them, and might help a cyclothymic manage themselves better and produce better.
I'm against the "medical-ization" of life. We need medical terms, but we need to be able to explain things in plain English without labeling. Labeling, by definition, drastically simplifies.
Cyclothymia is simple at its roots, simple enough for a plain discussion without medicalization. Here's how it works for me -
Skills require time to attain. There's no magic pill to become stronger; we have to go to the gym consistently. If you want to learn Russian, you need to study, practice, and probably spend some time in Russia. If you want to become a better writer you can learn some good practices, but you ultimately have to produce a lot of writing before you'll be any good.
But what about habits like diet change, sleeping habits, and introversion? While we may not all be able to speak Russian, we all have the innate ability to wake up early in the morning. Our mouths will all accept healthy food. We all have the physical ability to walk up to a stranger and begin talking.
Why do these switches often take so long to flip? Why is it a gradual struggle, rather than an instant change?