4 Lessons Learned About Diligence

Vipassana has given me new ways of thinking, living, and working. It’s apparent. The fact of the matter, I’m writing my third post about lessons learned from my experience. Diligence is a character trait I’m intentionally trying to improve. After reflecting on my experience, below are 4 lessons learned about diligence from Vipassana.

Time is the Most Valuable Commodity

More than money, I’ve always known that time is the most valuable commodity. Think about it, the punishment for a crime is a person’s time. A person can never get the seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years back. Never. Once it has happened, a moment in time is gone forever. This poem titled “The Essence of a New Day” from Commanding Your Morning by Cindy Trimm shares my sentiments about time:

This is the beginning of a new day

You Have been given this day to use as you will

You can waste it or use it for good

What you do today is important

Because you are exchanging a day of your life for it.

When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever.

In its place is something that you have left behind….

Let it be something good

-Author unknown

Contrastly, there are stories about people who lost fortunes and made their money back. Although we cannot make time back, we can manage our remaining time better. One way is by delegating certain chores. During a pre-recorded discourse, the late Satya Narayan Goenka, the Vipassana Meditation teacher, recited each day to work diligently and patiently. I found it easier to work diligently in meditation when I did not have to worry about meal preparation and laundry. Those tasks were handled by volunteers at the center. Emphasizing the importance of delegation.

#1 Delegation

Delegation allows a person to spend more time on value-based activities or activities that bring joy. Nowadays, the average person is outsourcing household chores, driving, meal preparation, and even work at the press of a button on their mobile. There are only 24 hours in a day. We sleep six to eight hours a day. We must use the remaining hours wisely. I’m lucky my husband enjoys cooking. He doesn’t mind doing the laundry either. It frees me up to do more leisure and value-based activities. He’s a huge help until the full-time staff (nanny, maid, cook, driver, security) is hired. 🙂

A Little Structure Can Go A Long Way

In the words of President Obama, ‘You need to focus your decision-making energy. You need to routinize yourself. You can’t be going through the day distracted by trivia.’ I wake up at 4 AM and go to bed by 10 PM similar to Vipassana’s schedule. I know what I want to accomplish throughout the day. I prepare the upcoming week’s schedule on the prior Thursday. The problem was my day was not as structured as Vipassana. The Vipassana schedule included time slots for meditation (group and individual), rest, meals, discourse, and counsel. I lacked time slots dedicated to each task within my day.

Meditation Cell Building (top), Meditation Cell (bottom)

#2 Regular Routine

A daily routine can take your diligence to new heights. I’m now realizing if I want to succeed, proper time management should encompass a regular routine. Thereby, reducing my daily decision making energy. It has helped that I schedule my day hour by hour the night before. I designate Saturday as a catch-up day and recently, Sunday is my unplug day to rejuvenate. Transferring this philosophy to my schedule has worked wonders. I work diligently every day within my set time parameters. As a consequence, my productivity level has spiked.

Plan Your Work…… -Napoleon Hill

It’ll Work If You Work It

Vipassana is an example of consistent effort over time. Students did the same thing. Day in and day out. The same time for 10-days. As the course progressed, meditation got better. Nothing changed in the course. Speaking for myself, I ended up reaping life-changing benefits. As part of my morning routine, I listen to Bishop Jakes’, founder of the Potter’s House in Dallas, TX,  sermon on YouTube titled “It Shall Come To Pass. He speaks about focus and diligence in this sermon. He always hits you with powerful nuggets. One that resonated with me was “It’ll work if you work it.” Common sense but genius too. He used an example of a drop of water hitting a rock in the same place eventually will cause erosion. Goes to show applied consistent effort produces results.

Assigned Meditation Spot in Meditation Hall

#3 Consistent Effort

I created a simple checklist for things I wanted to improve upon and at the top of the page I put a letter indicating the day of the week and a number for the date. For each task completed, I put a checkmark under the day and date. In the end, I have a track record of activities consistently performed and what’s not. My track record shows:

  •  I exercise three times a week or more. 
    • Result: I feel better. 
  • I write morning pages daily.
    • Result: My day begins with clarity. 
  • I write for four hours without interruption.
    • Result: The most important task (MIT)  is done for the day.

I’m still a work in progress in regards to:

  • drinking 1.5 liters of water a day, 
  • creating YouTube videos more frequently, 
  • and learning Twi, my husband’s native language.

The checklist allows me to assess my activity and devise a plan to accomplish my goals. For instance, I can set my alarm to drink 8 ounces of water every 2 hours or do one spontaneous live stream on YouTube weekly or practice Twi with my husband 30 minutes before bedtime.

……..and Work Your Plan.  -Napoleon Hill

Make It Compulsory

The final lesson learned is do not give goals or projects a lot of wiggle room. To reap the full benefits of the course, the center’s policy stated it was compulsory to stay the entire term. They didn’t make it easy for you to wimp out either. Student’s passports, phones, and wallets were taken on the day of arrival. It was not possible for a student to walk off the premises when things got hard (i.e. no hot water, cement bed, surprise visitors in my room: lizard, spiders, mutant ants, broke out in hives). It was, sort of, forced diligence. I mentally committed to finish. Andy Andrews, author of The Traveler’s Gift: Seven Decisions that Determine Personal Success, quoted

“Successful people make their decisions quickly and change their minds slowly. Failures make their decisions slowly and change their minds quickly.”

Ticket used to retrieve possessions at end of course

#4 High Level of Commitment

In other words, a high level of commitment is essential for diligence. I came back with that same mindset. I announced on my website and Medium, I will post three articles a week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. In the past, I didn’t want to designate a day for posting articles. I didn’t want the pressure that came along with the deadlines. Some months were postless or had one post when I did not adhere to a posting policy. I actually did not post on Friday. As a response to failing, I’m working on creating articles one week in advance of posting. 

4 Lessons Learned About Diligence From Vipassana

If I had to sum it up, I’ve learned diligence can be skyrocketed by:

  • Delegating tasks to provide more time to spend on value-based or leisure activities. 
  • Adopting a  regular routine will get more things done. 
  • Consistent effort applied over time produces results. 
  • A high level of commitment provides little room to change the mind.

If you want to reign (succeed) in life,[a]

don’t sit on your hands.

Instead work hard at doing what’s right 

for the slacker will end up working to make someone else succeed. 

Proverbs 12:24 (TPT)

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