And How To Make Them STICK This Time.
Do you ever feel the need to jump in head first? Are you the one in the office who goes full force into a project and finds themselves burnt out half way through?
You’re guilty of something many-a-people have attempted, and failed at.
Something that many like to identify as their New Year’s Resolution, and something that we collectively get far too gung-hoe about in the name of creating new and more productive habits.
You’re running off the boat before learning to swim.
Society assumes that just because a new year rolls around, we’re ready to challenge ourselves with these heavy and drastic changes, to essentially turn over our lives.
It’s no wonder we don’t succeed by flipping a switch at the demand of a ticking clock and suddenly expecting our lofty to-do lists and goals to promptly appear manageable, airy, and simple.
We don’t suddenly have more hours in the day, or conversely less responsibilities… Yet the celebratory notion of this new beginning gets everyone’s engines really going – And my argument is – We are absolutely setting ourselves up to fail.
We do this all the time as humans. Expect insurmountable and measurable growth in the stride of a day, or a week, or a single workout, or a self-help book. But change doesn’t always happen so rapidly.
The first and most important thing to point out is that we do it in the name of self-growth, and self-improvement.
I am not sure if there is a more beautiful or worthy cause than this, to try for.
But continuing to search for: A Quick-fix, an antidote, or a prescription to our procrastination – Hardly seems like a realistic remedy to our woes.
I have an honest and decent proposal: We Start Small.
Don’t tell yourself that you’re going to sit down and write 9 chapters of your novel today. Tell yourself you’re going to find 5 minutes a day and write whatever you feel in that moment. One page, one paragraph. Anything. Literally. Anything!
And if you are feeling the flow of passion and inspiration, you keep writing.
If you don’t, then at least you’ve got one attempt towards something that drives your fire in that day (A successful day of living, in my opinion). Because you’ve taken personal charge of something that is truly yours. Your freedom and your time.
Nevertheless, by attacking these feats with smaller goals, we adapt our minds and bodies to a less radical breed of change. Something our brains prefer.
Ones that we can realistically begin to slip quietly into our already manic and feisty schedules.
Rome was not built in a day and you won’t be either.
These are real psychological issues you’re conquering in yourself, real disciplines to be chased. This isn’t like a cloak of happiness that protects you and keeps you focused as its day-scene or part-time job. It takes work. And only you can keep yourself focused (All easier said than done). I know this to be more than true for myself… But it doesn’t make it any less honest.
I challenged myself recently to tackle small goals, ones that wouldn’t put copious amounts of ungodly fear in my heart.
My personal example comes in the name of painting. I love to paint. I love everything about it. Besides writing and poetry, art is essentially my reason to breath.
For years, I would put so much excess pressure on myself, it would be a torture to even step up to the easel. I convinced myself I’d either mess up a piece that was stuck in progress, or I’d never be able to top what I’d already created… So what was the point?
But you see once I’m in the groove of painting, the channel of creating something physical and evolving before my eyes, I feel radiant!
Almost like I could take on anything in the world.
Yet for some reason, I would fight with myself. Day after day, “Why can’t you just sit down and make a masterpiece? Why do you make this so hard?” And the difficult part was, many of my excuses were quite valid. Full time university, a part-time job or two, and daily traffic-stressed commutes… It would take a lot out of me.
To come home and create something breathtaking would feel like an earth-shatteringly-enormous task. And it was hard to feel inventive when spread too thin.
The self added pressure was not doing me any favors.
So I took on a new routine.
Five minutes a day I would sit down to the easel and I wouldn’t care if it turned out looking like a disgusting blob of randomness. As long as I had enjoyed the process of creating again.
I made this arrangement for myself, to sit down for a short and meaningless amount of time – Something that was not even worth talking myself out of, since it was only five minutes to spare. No harm, no foul! Right?
The important part is just showing up for yourself. And really hone in on this part of it all, because you’re not showing up for anyone else’s sake. Only you and the power of your own hunger can drive this.
Start with just something that may even feel silly to you right now. Take a short walk to the stop sign today if you never get outside. Add one new vegetable to the family menu. Do three Pushups. Write one sentence a day. Find five minutes to simply meditate and focus on deep breathing.
This is how you start a habit that lasts.
You’ll be much less likely to talk yourself out of it if there’s a miniscule amount to internally gripe about during and later when the excuses kick in.
By starting small, you’re getting your brain slowly acclimated to the new change.
For me, if I wanted to paint more after 5 minutes, I was completely free to. But if I wanted to stop cause I was too tired or just wasn’t feeling attuned enough to the piece that day, well, then at least I had something small to show for the day.
Something I did for myself, for no other reason than: I wanted to.
Remember – The celebration of a new year is not a shiny excuse to try flipping our realities on their weak necks. Let’s make it a time for peaceful reflection and sincerely mindful growth. Let’s seek it at our own pace, and skip all the unrealistic husk and self-loathing fuss that we’ve accepted as a normal part of the process.
Stop trying to move mountains in minutes people!
You are a work of art, and those don’t happen in a single moment. The inspiration, the research, the time, require encouragement and passion surging from one’s fingertips. It all takes patient time and dedicated care.
Treat yourself as softly, and as kindly as a piece of art that is slowly emerging on a blank canvas. It will take a bit of time. But all of the good things in life really do.