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The Utility of Maintenance:

A Superpower in the Pursuit of Overall Excellence

Read Time : 3 minutes


In a world filled with generic books, courses, and transformation programs that guarantee exponentially improved finances, careers prospects, health and relationships within a 12 week period, it is hard for us to resist the lure of this impressive marketing.

In fact, many of us have fallen for the bait and parted with our hard earned cash only to find that the promised land never arrived and worse yet, it was because ‘we didn’t work hard enough’ or ‘we didn’t believe enough in the process’.

You Can Have It All

When we look around us we see people who ‘have it all’; they are healthy, earn abundantly and have great relationships.

What we fail to recognise is that they are not at the extreme of success in any single domain and that they did not cultivate these habits nor their overall lifestyle in one fell swoop.

Limited Time and Energy

Making lifestyle changes requires a lot of time and energy - and therefore we can only make limited changes at any time.

‘The myth of perpetual improvement in all areas of life is just that - a myth.’


The shotgun approach of trying to improve all aspects of life in one go not only creates overwhelm and a lifestyle incongruent to our current mindset but ultimately sets us up for failure.

The key therefore lies in focusing on improvements in one area at a time until those habits are formed, embedded and established. Once those habits are formed, we move them into maintenance mode.

The Magic of Maintenance

The energy required for maintaining a system is markedly less than creating it. In real terms we know that:

- Maintaining a car is easier than building a new one,

- Maintaining a healthy body is easier than creating one,

- Maintaining a healthy relationship is easier than creating a new one.

The same rings true for the systems we create in our own life.

The Illusion of Having it All Simultaneously

Achieving it all, whatever that means to you, is within most of our grasps but it will take time, patience and commitment to your chosen path.

It means focusing on and improving the most important aspect of your life to the desired level, before maintaining this as you move on to your next desired outcome.

Over time you will cultivate systems that support the life you want and the energy required to maintain these systems will decrease as they become more habitual and automatic - as they become part of your identity.

The Trade-Off of Ultimate Excellence

It must be noted that at the extreme end of the bellcurve of success, the risk of not achieving the desired outcome and the probability of having a well rounded life decrease substantially.

For those looking to be a pro-athlete, a Nobel prize winning scientist or a Pulitzer prize winner, the time and effort required in such a competitive environment will leave little space for developing the other aspects of life.

As a result, these individuals may achieve acclaim in their chosen profession but may struggle with creating meaningful connections, maintaining optimal health or even creating financial stability.

The Cost of our Aspirations

The aim is always to aim upwards, but the further we aim upwards, the bigger the cost and focus on a singular aspect of our life must be. This will ultimately be to the detriment of the others aspects of our life.

There is no blueprint for ‘The Perfect Life’ - but each individual should studiously and carefully critic their creation to ensure it is congruent will their life’s mission and purpose and be willing to commit to the process for however long that takes.

"Most big, deeply satisfying accomplishments in life take at least five years to achieve. This can include building a business, cultivating a loving relationship, writing a book, getting in the best shape of your life, raising a family, and more.

Five years is a long time. It is much slower than most of us would like. If you accept the reality of slow progress, you have every reason to take action today. If you resist the reality of slow progress, five years from now you'll simply be five years older and still looking for a shortcut."


James Clear

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