Five Minutes a Day!

Since writing last week’s post, I’ve been thinking about just how much a person can accomplish in only five minutes a day.

Years ago, I worked with a writer so anxious about writing that we settled on five minutes each morning as the maximum amount of time she felt comfortable spending on her novel. I anticipated that once she became comfortable with five minutes, we’d double the time, and that one day, she’d be able to work on her book for at least an hour or two a day.

However, for as long as we worked together, five minutes remained her comfort zone. Even anticipating spending longer caused her anxiety. Yet, despite her restricted writing time, the pages piled up, until, much to her surprise, her novel was nearly complete.

As for me, I feel mostly comfortable with what I’ve been accomplishing most days for the past few years. I write, see clients, practice chi gong, meditate and see my grandchildren, among other things. But I never seem to get around to studying Spanish, which I’ve been meaning to do for some time. What if I were to devote just five minutes a day to Spanish?

In the first place, I’d no longer feel that twinge of regret each time I think about reviewing my Spanish. It’s not a terribly painful twinge, more like a discomfort. But freeing myself of a chronic discomfort would definitely be a plus.

In addition to eliminating the twinge, I might just begin to experience a sense of pride at finally seeing to something I’ve wanted to get to for quite some time. And if my client’s novel is a good indicator—which it most likely is—I will probably be able to add a sense of accomplishment to the positive effects of my daily five minutes.

I can also imagine that at some point, the rewards of my study will increase geometrically. With a solid foundation, I’ll be able to absorb more information more quickly than I will initially. Which means that my five minutes will seem to inflate into a longer and larger expanse of time.

I can imagine many worthy pursuits for the five-minute-a-day plan: five minutes of yoga, for example; five minutes of meditation, of photography, of cardio exercise, of full attention on an object of beauty, of listening to music, of training my dog . . .

But I’m not going to pile it all on now. I’ve already learned the value and rewards of small, and I don’t want to interfere. For now, five minutes of Spanish a day is my commitment. I’ll start by reviewing my Michel Thomas CD’s, one day, one cd, one track at a time.

Bark, Navarro River

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