There’s a difference between:
(A) Things that are good for you, and
(B) Things that are good for you and that you’ll actually do.
Most so-called New Year’s resolutions are type (A). They sound heroic. They sound “disciplined”. They work. It’s just that no one in all of human history has ever actually carried them out, except under duress.
Kaizen and “just showing up” are type (B). They seem so easy, so doable, so simple, that they couldn’t possibly help. Not only that, but, the cool thing is, a string of type (B) things can and will get you (A)-level results.
Don’t be a hero. Don’t tell yourself you’re going to stop doing bad things. I know you won’t. You know you won’t. We all know you won’t. Instead, just make it very inconvenient to do the wrong thing, and very convenient to do the right thing.
In the long run, (in)convenience almost always triumphs over the human will. Don’t master your will. Don’t become a better person. Master convenience. Move the chess pieces that are the elements of your daily life; change what it is that’s convenient to do and/or not do.
Don’t stop eating bad food. Bad food tastes awesome and you know it. Just don’t allow any bad food in your house. Make it inconvenient to access. Don’t eat vegetables. Just have them cut up and sitting in front of you.
Don’t go running. You know you’d rather be at home watching Daily Show episodes. Just step outside with your sneakers on.
Don’t do only Japanese. Just only have Japanese stuff to do.
This is a chess game with your vices. You don’t win by becoming more moral, you win by creating environments and situations that make victory stochastically inevitable. You don’t win by trying hard and struggling and straining, you win by observing, maneuvering and tweaking. Don’t be the sweet-but-doomed fool. Don’t be the hapless meathead with a heart of gold. You’ll get pwned by yourself if you do that. Instead, be a player. Be a winner.
Metaphorically speaking, there’s a magical bubble around all of us. Typically it’s about one meter in radius, give or take. In terms of information and physical objects, you more or less control what comes into this bubble. But once something is inside the bubble, it more or less controls you.
The trick isn’t to control or manage yourself, but to control and manage, as far as possible, the contents of this bubble. You can be a total bum — lazy, impulsive, neurotic — but coast your way toward good or even highly impressive performance because of a little bit of bubble-handling. The language of this bubble is the language you will learn, whether you want to or not. Handle the bubble — handle the environment — and you’re basically good to go.
Try, test and tweak. Just don’t try hard. If you’re trying hard, you’re probably doing it wrong. Trying hard sucks and it never lasts.
Stop trying so hard and start having fun.