My New Year came and went with no fanfare.
It was almost like I was hiding from the calendar. If I pretended that I couldn’t see 2014, then I wouldn’t have to commit to the resolution ritual and realize once again that I needed to work on the same stuff I always do.
With more than a week into January I was feeling a bit naked with no goals nailed to my wall. It was getting harder and harder to ignore. The call of tradition was beckoning me, but I simply couldn’t commit to approaching it the same way I’d always done.
“What I really want”, I said to my friend Davina, “is a process that will love me back. A process that is kind, gentle, forgiving, and that encourages me to keep trying over and over again, because I’m going to need multiple attempts.”
So how could I actually approach this New Year with excitement and encouragement when working on my same old stuff?
image by Bill Cumming
4 Great Unconventional Resources for Starting the New Year:
SOMETHING SMALL EVERYDAY
Austin Kleon’s thoughts on this matter were exactly what I needed to hear. Too often my discouragement comes when I only see the big picture, or final destination. In reality, it’s the brick by brick small things that pave the way. He gives some great ideas for how to maintain the smaller focus.
REFOCUS WITHOUT REGRET
Treacy Mize created an incredible FREE PDF Refocus without Regret. Treacy hits the nail on the head by attacking the discouraging voices in our head FIRST when it comes to the New Year. This guide gracefully leads you through ways to re-train your thoughts so they can be supportive of the changes you want to make.
Vani Hari reveals why “Only 8% of People Keep New Years Resolutions–Here’s What to Do Instead” in a recent CNN Interview. Such great ideas about how to make our goals not just be realistic, but something that we can actually sustain long term.
Mastery: The Keys to Success and Longterm Fulfillment by George Leonard
As I read this fantastic book this week I beautifully saw all my New Year discouragement melt away in Leonards description of the process of “mastery”.
It’s a never ending journey filled with plateaus and occasional moments of progress. The key, he says, is in learning to love the plateaus. You’re on the road to mastery when the love of practicing is more motivating than the allure of achievement.
While the idea of a never ending road and plateaus may seem overwhelming to some, it brought me the most glorious sense of relief.
So much of my discouragement comes from not reaching the level of perfection I set myself up for, but changing that perspective to focus on the practice/or process instead of any “arrival points” feels so much more manageable and forgiving.
When you are consistently showing up for whatever your practice may be (art, relationships, spirituality, health, work, etc.) you regularly discover baby goals birthed along the way leading you through a lifetime of steady forward momentum.
MY WORD FOR 2014
image by Manchester Monkey
Practice makes perfect–but not in the sense that we usually think of the word.
Perfect (the verb) means flawless.
Perfect (the adjective) means whole or complete.
I want my areas of practice to help me feel whole. Flaws and all. Just for showing up as often as I can.
But that sounds boring…
“But practicing sounds kind of boring…” a friend of mine chided. “I hated practicing the piano as a kid.”
This is why George Leonard says it is the “love of practice” that puts us on the road to mastery.
If practicing is boring, what can you do to make it more fun?
▪ Perhaps having a good book or magazine that you want some time to read is the “fun” part of getting up early in the morning.
▪ Inviting friends to participate in your fitness activities can bring a great anticipation and fun spark to working out.
▪ Beautiful and high quality ingredients makes eating healthy a great rewarding treat.
▪ Date night makes strengthening a marriage relationship much more fun!
▪ Pretty journals and pens make journaling feel more special.
▪ Practicing photography is always more fun for me when I’m doing personal projects that allow for more creativity than typical portrait sessions.
What do you do to LOVE your practice? What keeps you showing up?
Brooke Snow is a photographic artist and delights in the pursuit of a meaningful life. Sign up for her FREE e course “Living A Thriving Life” to learn more about how to find true balance in your life. Brooke lives in Northern Utah with her calm husband and adventurous 4 year old son.
Brooke, I follow your blog for some time and each post you publish is a real blessing and joy for me. I am Polish artist, who like you is seeking meaning in life. My English however is not as beautiful as yours to express so well what I have in mind and my heart:) I love reading your articles, your thoughts your gentle tips for self-development. They are very close to what I think. You are a beautiful and inspiring soul!:) I wish you and your Family many blessings in 2014:)