By Skyler Zarndt MS, ATC, RSCC
“Master the Mundane” is a phrase that I’m using from Jeff Olson’s best seller, The Slight Edge.
If you haven’t read the book or don’t know much about it, let me boil it down in a less-than-ideal super quick summary – Success is achieved one day at a time, one action at a time. Plain and simple.
Mastering the Mundane is a daily mantra. Words to live by. A constant reminder that success isn’t achieved over night. Financial, personal, spiritual, emotional, or physical – success is something that must be cultivated over time. Time frames obviously vary from person to person and from situation to situation, but like they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
But what is it about the “mundane” that is so important to being successful? Mundane, by definition, means “lacking interest or excitement, dull.” tThat doesn’t sound very motivating!)
So being unexciting and dull is the key to success?
I feel that mastering the unexciting aspects of your life is where true growth happens. Everyone has periods of high motivation when we’re willing to run through a brick wall for what we want. And just as soon as we become motivated, we can also become unmotivated. But those are the ends of the spectrum. So what happens in the middle?
The MUNDANE happens in the middle!
Every decision that we make, no matter how insignificant it seems, will either take us closer to our goal or drag us further away from it. The rub lies in the countless mundane decisions we make every single day.
These decisions – good, bad, or indifferent – will eventually shape our habits. How does that quote go? We are what we repeatedly do. Therefore, greatness is not an act, but a habit. So our MUNDANE habits that seem inconsequential are constantly shaping how we think, what we do, and more importantly, who we become.
Mundane things are SIMPLE and EASY and anyone can do them. And I honestly feel that these mundane habits are a true secret to success. But, if they’re so easy, why doesn’t everyone do them?
According to The Slight Edge, not everyone can master (let alone consistently do the mundane) for three reasons:
- They’re Easy to Do
- The Results are Invisible
- They Seem Insignificant
These everyday, mundane habits are SO easy to do, that they’re also just as easy NOT TO DO!
Reading a few pages of a book every day? SO simple and easy to do. Or not do.
Taking 5 minutes to practice diaphragmatic breathing every day? SO simple and easy to do. Or not do.
We all have the same amount of time in a day, and we all fill up that time with something. Usually our days are full of little, mundane actions and tasks. The difference lies in developing good habits and mastering the mundane, every day tasks and disciplines that will eventually pay dividends in our success and accomplishments.
And just as mundane tasks are easy to do, the results are also invisible, and therefore seem insignificant.
That being said, society today has developed everyone into a “Now Monster.” We want what we want and we want it NOW! Amazon Prime has free 2 day shipping? NOPE! I need Amazon Prime Now so I can get that crap I ordered in 2 hours instead. We want instant gratification, instant feedback, and instant results.
We tend to forget that a lot of little things, done over a long period of time, equal out to a really big thing. We forget that some things take time. Some things don’t happen instantly. That beach body you’ve always wanted isn’t going to just show up in the mirror after one day on the treadmill. And that frustrates us!! Making the correct, mundane choice doesn’t result in instant success. But making those correct choices day-in and day-out? THAT is what is going to make the difference.
That insignificant decision to not go to the gym or not practice your Spanish won’t have a major effect on who we become or our success. But not going to the gym for 10 years straight? Yup, probably not going to achieve our fitness goals. And not practicing Spanish for 10 years straight? Yup, no hablo Espanol. They seem insignificant TODAY…but these decisions, added up over time – good, bad, or indifferent – THAT is what makes the difference.
In the end, it’s so simple to do. Or not do. The choice is yours. That’s why we need to understand that the mundane tasks are the ones that are eventually going to shape who we are.