The other day I was visiting my family in Hawaii when I complained to my mother about not wanting to do a planned run that afternoon. I told her that I was tired and was dreading physical exercise. Despite that, I explained to her that I was going to do it, even if it meant I ran a lot slower than my regular pace.

Eventually, I did go on my run, and sure enough, it was slow. I apologized to my mom for taking so long because I had planned to watch a show with her afterward. My mom, who is Japanese, told me it was all right and taught me a new term in Japanese called 初志貫徹 (shoshikantetsu).

"Shoshi" translates to "original intent", and kantetsu translates to "to carry out". Combined, it means to complete what was originally intended. In this case, I practiced "shoshikantetsu" by completing the planned run, despite my low motivation.

My mom printed the phrase out for me after she saw my interest in it.

shoshikantetsu print out

I've thought a lot about shoshikantetsu since then. Having a high say-do ratio has always been important to me, but I wanted to strategize a way to make sure my commitments were seen through to the end. What I ended up landing on was focusing on making the "original intent" small enough that I had no excuses to not complete them.

For example, I'm currently experimenting with doing 30 minutes of enjoyable, productive activities once a day for 7 days. Originally, I wanted to make this an hour per day life long habit. The truth is, such a grandiose original intend only sets you up for failure. By adjusting the experiment to something a lot less intense, it made it less intimidating. As a result, so far, performing my 30 minute duty feels easy, especially because I know after a week I can quit if I want. Of course I would like to continue the habit for as long as it works for me, and reducing the pressure to achieve it is probably the best way to promote consistency.

Apparently, there are many 4 letter Japanese idioms out there. Some other interesting ones include:

It's great to learn new phrases/idioms, especially when you allow it to change how you think about life. I'm sure shoshikantetsu will stick with me as I continue to create goals for myself in the future.