Monday, January 1, 2018

Finding your One Little Thing

A few days ago, a yoga friend on my IG shared a provocative little idea about changing your life in the new year.

Her yoga teacher recently wished all of her students the chance to make NEW mistakes in their upcoming year and ever since I heard those words I’ve been smitten. Totally head-over-heels-in-love with this idea. But did you catch that little distinction? It’s not about REPEATING old mistakes. The idea is to make new mistakes because we all know that when we’re making new mistakes we’re treading outside our comfort zone. We’re daring to enter into new—and challenging—territory and inviting struggle and maybe some failure.
Heck yeah, let’s push ourselves toward some new mistakes. How does that sound to you?
Because that’s the part that’s calling my name.

Consider this question, “What’s your one big dream, something you’ll always regret if you never do it?”

My youngest son recently asked me those exact words and I was surprised at how self-conscious I got. His blunt question caught me off guard and I found myself fumbling my answer.

“Oh, I don’t know. Probably write that book I wanna write.”

And then he called me out on it. He followed up by asking me how much time I’m working on it every day. And honestly? I felt sheepish when I heard myself rattling off all the other priorities that were taking up my valuable time each day. Only it’s not that these other priorities were optional.
But do you want to know the truth?  No one person or priority has been keeping me from writing my book.
Not really, I am the one in charge of how I allocate my time.

And this is what I do know. Our daily habits tell the world about our values, what we care about, and the direction of our life. And on any given day it’s our own actions—not our words- showing us what we are choosing to prioritize. I’m talking about once our life obligations are taken care of. What are we doing with our time? Really?
Because we all know people that accomplish big goals while they juggle a complex job and a web of responsibilities. They do it by getting up an hour early, or staying up extra late after the kids are in bed, but somehow, they choose to create that chunk of time in their life because it’s worth it to them. They have found a passion or dream and they have the willingness to work hard to achieve it.

This topic of time management has been on my mind lately and it’s why I jokingly said to my husband that my new mantra is going to be, “no more words—only action.”  

For me this means, no more talk and wispy dreams and vague ideas about writing.
It means start writing now. Write something today and every single day to become a better writer and eventually gain the confidence to write that book.

Why might this be my new mistake?
Well, to be perfectly honest writing is not an easy process for me; I am not a smooth, proficient writer in fact, I’m a terribly slow writer. It takes me forever to get a post out whether it’s a creative design post accompanied with photos, or me simply writing on one of my random topics. Either way I’m slow. Not to mention my own worst critic.

So, the idea of writing every day isn’t a problem if it’s just me journaling, however, committing myself to posting one little thing each day feels like the equivalent of standing at the bottom of Mount Everest and looking up. I literally cannot imagine being able to do that. Blame my perfection. Blame my annoying habit of constant re-writes. Blame my fear of failure. Who knows.
I’ve never even tried this before. Writing one little thing each day… ? Yet for me, thinking of it as something little each day feels more accessible and habit forming than a lot of grand resolutions. And posting it for the world to see?

…that sounds like I may be heading into “new mistake” territory, with a public humiliation to boot, which will certainly not be a boring repetition of same-ness right?

In order to make this new habit more successful for me –especially with my new work schedule--I've decided to lower my expectations, and this means setting clear parameters for myself.
Because adding original photos to any post adds so much more time I will make this writing project a photo-optional one. Some days there might be an accompanied picture, some days not, no pressure.
Also, as grateful as I am for the dialogue that happens via the comments, I'm aware that responding to comments adds an extraordinary amount of extra time (I’m such a slow composer of my thoughts) and since comments also have a subtle way of making me self-conscious about how I’m writing, I think it will be easier for me to view this project as an open-one-way journal. My goal is to practice my writing, hone my writing voice, and most importantly, deal with that nagging Little Miss Perfect whisper in my head that never wants to hit the publish button until everything feels “just right.”

Hitting the publish button is a way to keep me accountable.
So here’s a summation of what I plan to do.

Write One Little Thing Every Day Project:

No limitation on topics

It should be unedited version of my thoughts

Photos are optional

Response to comments optional

Well that’s it friends.

I plan on counting my regular posts as a writing day to keep it simple. And I'll re-evaluate this after each month.

But wait---before you go, this entire post is supposed to get you thinking too.

Consider this question:

What is your one little thing you can do every day that could change the direction of your life?


Karen said...

I fail in this exercise every time I read something like this. I use the excuse that I don't have time to think about what my true dream would be because I work full time. I work at a job I love and it's by choice---I don't technically have to work. So maybe I'm doing what I really want to do at a time when most of our friends (and my husband) are retired. Still, I often worry that somehow I didn't pursue my "true" dream. I'll enjoy reading your thoughts and to follow along as you complete this goal.

Leslie Harris said...

Karen I say honor your gut reaction, which is that there is nothing pressing right now that is calling your name. Instead, I hear your contentment with your job and a gratitude for your situation. And I can't think of anything better to wish for you. What a nice realization.
Happy New Year's dear friend.

Simply LKJ said...

Love this Leslie. I can honestly say that at my stage in life, the biggest thing keeping me from pursuing anything is myself. Not always for the same reason. Food for thought for sure.

Susan said...

After going through 5 serious surgical procedures within a year, I need to start chair yoga. I have had 6 months to recuperate, after my last procedure, and I need to start moving on my own at home. After feeling like curling up in a ball and protecting myself, I need to open up and start loving my body, again. I wish both of us a fun and gratitude-filled journey~

Leslie Harris said...

Well having that awareness is the first step toward changing things around Lauren. Stay curious about your self-talk.
PS when I think of you I think of kindness.

Leslie Harris said...

Susan you sound like one amazingly resilient woman. I am so sorry to hear about your physical struggles but I’m so excited to hear you gravitating toward chair yoga. Please keep me posted I really believe you will see the benefits. I only wish I could work with you. Take care dear friend, thank you for sharing your story here... I’m sending positive prayers your way.

Carla from The River said...

I am hard on my self. I noticed in 2017 I was even more hard on myself. For small things, for things I have no control over, I feel if anything happens wrong, it is my fault.
I already wrote in my 2018 journal, my personal goal, is to give " me" a break.

As always Leslie, I appreciate your words.

Calypso In The Country said...

Reading your blog is like a breath of fresh air for me. I think you and I think alike in so many ways - you just articulate it better! Ironically, I have been saying I am going to write a book for many years now...more years than I'd like to admit. A few weeks ago, my older son asked me how much I was working on it each day and I weakly admitted to him that I only work on it sometimes. "Promise me you will write a least a little bit each day.", said my wise 13 year old. It seemed like such a simple request, because after all, I do write a blog already. The next morning while my thoughts were fresh for the day, I did a little writing and since then I have gotten into a little bit of a groove. Not that I have written every day but I am at least making more of an effort than I had in the past. So I am with you - ready to make some NEW mistakes for 2018!
Cheers to the new year!

michele said...

Thank you for your thoughtfulness, Leslie. I'm getting caught up around here, and I am noticing how brave and energized you are in the New Year--you go! I think more about desires than dreams these days. And it's surprising how many people are not in touch with their desires! When I got in touch with my own desire a couple of years ago, a new world opened up. What I want is to see as God sees. This seems to happen only from spiritual practice and staying awake, and staying awake means facing pain head on. But each day I can begin again! And new eyes mean I can be better at loving people just as they are and accepting myself just as I am, no matter how productive or nonproductive I happen to be on a given day. Ironically, as awake as I am, I think I declared 2017 the year of sleep for myself, and since I don't feel pressured to always be creative, I may just declare 2018 the year of sleep again. Sleeping more is a kind thing to do for myself as a spiritually awake, super freaky weird yet nice daughter of the divine mystery. :)

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