No time? Listen to it instead
When this year began, I decided on a simple goal: Learn German. I decided there was no harm in trying, and so I booked a daily slot on my calendar and installed Duolingo. It went great for some time. Then, as is customary for January resolutions, I started to get a little frustrated with it. I think it was around that time that one of my friends started learning Spanish on Duolingo. We’ve not let each other lose a single day so far since, and that’s what I’ll be talking about today: Collaborative Habits and Healthy Rivalries.
For the last couple of years, I’ve shared an image on my Instagram story. It has nothing but the following words on the screen in endless repetition.
I have friends who do things, so I do things, so my friends have friends who do things, so I have friends who do things…
This is something I often say as well, mid-conversation, when someone asks me how is it that I can manage to stay consistent enough. Personally, for me, it has always been about finding someone to collaborate with but not on a project rather a habit or some lifestyle change.
Collaborative Habits: Exercise
Back in 2016, one of our friends dove into physical fitness headfirst. Up until then, all of us had hints of some activity, but I doubt we had any conviction. Gradually, he started his own network to promote the best things he learned through working out. He even gave us tips, and slowly, all of us were doing some sort of workout.
I use Freeletics for working out. It’s a simple app which uses some complex AI algorithms to take your feedback and design a workout for you every day. It’s something I’ve used consistently for about a year and a half with some three or four monthlong breaks in between because well, life, always has a way.
In any case, the Freeletics community is rather friendly, and I didn’t know this until I started following some people earlier this year. I commented on a few posts, and I found that this was probably the healthiest fitness community I’ve come across. It isn’t toxic and nor does it push a standard unlike most of my previous experiences with fitness communities. It’s just pure motivation.
Point being, there are a few people I interact with on Freeletics regularly — most strangers, some friends. Nothing much. Just a comment here, a “Clap Clap” there. Clap Claps are Freeletics’ version of Likes. It’s actually just that simple, and it brings me back to working out even if I have the urge to skip it on multiple days.
Healthy Rivalries: Learning
The Duolingo case in the introduction is what inspired this post, to be honest. However, there’s another app I want to talk about: Elevate. If you missed the Nudge Weekly last week, it was mentioned in it too.
Elevate is a brain-training app. It has exercises for five areas: Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking and Math. The exercises are more inclined towards the real-world such as Percentages, Pronunciation, Name Recall etc. It has a paid and a free version.
The Failed Streak
I used the app earlier in 2017 for some six months before I gave up on it. Last year, I picked it up again, and to motivate me enough (because I know it works for me), I got the paid subscription. It unlocks two more games every day, so you end up learning more over time.
The thing with Elevate is that their app is heavily gamified with achievements and whatnot. There’s a specific achievement called Streak Hotshot. That’s 30 days of consistently doing Elevate every day. Since July 2019, I missed this achievement by as close as a single day. I missed it multiple times. I would stay on-track and somehow, end up missing the last few days left.
One of my friends joined Elevate this year. Now, Elevate has no Communities like Duolingo or Freeletics, so it’s difficult to check up on another user’s progress, if not impossible. Yet, my friend and I decided we’ll cross the 30-day streak. I told them how I always failed it and maybe, this time, I won’t.
At the 27th day, they sent me a message in the morning saying, “D-day soon” and that was enough. It was enough for me to consistently log in for the 30th day, and do the games, and our current streaks are well over 50 days now.
A Course on History
I decided to pursue a course on History titled, The Modern World, Part One: Global History from 1760 to 1910 from Coursera a couple of weeks back. I had tried pursuing this course last year as well, but it seems, I couldn’t manage time. That’s obviously a different story in itself.
In any case, it occurred to me that my elder brother, who is very interested in History, just might want to do this course too. So, I shared it with him.
Before we knew it, we were studying together, and discussing lessons later (often throughout the day). I completed the course yesterday, some six hours after he did. Now, we’re on the second part of the same course, and I’m sure we’ll complete that one too.
The best part about this is that we’re also getting active discussion about the lessons and it goes without saying, you bond over common activities.
An Anecdote On Growth
I have a group of friends still sticking strong together since school. The other day, we were talking about how all of us started with rather distinct personalities with extreme differences in almost everything. Over the years, while we’ve remained our unique selves, we’ve clearly impacted some parts of each other’s lives.
For example, exercise and physical activity entered our lives because one of us decided to pursue it with as much passion as they did. Eventually, all of us had our mindsets transformed slightly. Now, I can’t imagine my lifestyle without regular exercise and sports.
To give some contrast, I had a T-shirt with the phrase, “Things Workout, I Don’t” written over it in bold lettering. So, I’d say that’s a huge leap towards becoming healthier.
There are other places too. Another friend who is an exceptional photographer and videographer, somehow improved the way I click photos and how I go about looking at them just with their presence.
I’m no photographer, and yet, if I compare the frames that I clicked earlier with the ones I take now, there’s a significant difference there. It’s just a skill but yet, it got rubbed off on me by a friend over time.
Of Agreeing To Disagree
Of course, you cannot agree on everything. My friends and I often engage in long discussions about almost everything, including random what-if thoughts, and more often than not, we disagree.
However, we usually find the middle ground somewhere in between. There are days when some of us walk more than halfway, while there are others when people come over towards us. In any case, we manage to find a place where we’re comfortable with the disagreements.
In fact, I once remarked, “Most of the closest relationships in my life are based on healthy disagreements,” when talking about agreeing to disagree with someone. I still remember that sentence because of its perpetual validity.
Find Friends Who Do Things
In some way, I’m rather blessed to come across people who do things. I have friends and acquaintances with brilliant passion and talent. As for myself, I don’t think I’ve hit the passion mark at anything I do yet. The only thing I pursue passionately is a holistic improvement of the life I lead.
The one thing I’ve learned over the last few years is that to grow it is almost mandatory to find friends who do things. There is a shift in perspective that occurs when you’re surrounded by people who have an active mindset. That’s something I’ll also touch upon in future posts.
We’re automatically influenced by those around us. The influence may be direct, through conversation or collaborative habits and goals. It may be indirect, such as just how passionate they are about something. They rub off on us almost surely. We can choose what to borrow from someone and how to leverage that to grow and learn together. Everyone has something to add and cutting people off is rather pre-pandemic, don’t you think?
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