Each new year brings about a world of change, and yet much stays the same.
As each year passes by, we all get a little bit older, a little bit wiser, and a little less curious. Those first two you might have heard, but do you ever think about curiosity? I am curious as to what you all have to say about that. We tend to leave words like curiosity, fascination, and many other similar words for scholars, writers, or describing small children. Yet, these elements move through us every moment. We are curious about what the rest of the world is doing, what our favorite artists are doing, what our friends and neighbors are doing. We tend to bombard ourselves and each other with information, so much so that we have a fear of missing out. This fear is so strong, we often lose sleep over it.
As the New Year is about to roll around, most of us decide to set new goals, start new fitness regiments, and make big plans to improve ourselves from last year. As I am sure you have heard before, gyms see an onslaught of new customers, eager to get the “perfect look” at the beaches this summer. Being the clever devil you are, you know I am about to say that almost everyone quits after a few weeks or months, which is correct. But this isn’t a conversation about just gym memberships being canceled, but a little deeper look into the why aspect. Why do people set high expectations for themselves once January 1st rolls around, only to give up a few weeks or months later?
Personally, I see the New Year as just another day. Like any other holiday, it is special simply because we said it is, and therefore at the core has no more meaning on a Tuesday then it would be a Saturday. With this mindset, I do not set myself up for a huge disappointment by setting a massive “2018” goal. As a child, I used to wonder why the new year came in January when school started in August. With that being said, I try to set micro-goals every day, tasks so simple that I have absolutely no trouble completing them, thus freeing up any self-doubt, as well as accomplishing much more than giving myself a list full of stuff to try to get done. You can read more about setting micro-goals here.
Results come when we least expect them.
While we could find libraries about procrastination, goals, effort, and similar behaviors, I’d like to ask you two questions. How often do you try at something? How hard do you try when you try to do something? I, like everyone else, have had a skewed perception of effort, and what it means to try at something. Coaches, parents, teachers all taught us as children to “Try harder!” “Give more effort!” While giving more effort, putting in hard work and the likes are common phrases we hear every day, what if I told you there was a simpler way, just by changing how you word things?
Just as you have no control over the fact that your heart beats, your lungs needing air, and your glands secreting fluids, we trust every day that what is going on inside of us is going to work without any conscious effort on our part. Of course there are exceptions where medical interference is needed, but for the most part, we have little say in what goes on inside of us. Other than breathing and moving our body around, we have no say in what our organs and even smaller parts are doing. So when you try to sleep, try to work harder, try to win more, try to learn how to ride your bike, the harder things seem to get. Of course, they eventually happen, but it seems to take longer the harder we try.
A man by the name of Alan Watts once said that “We have a strange anxiety in us, that if we don’t interfere it won’t happen.” The more that we try to do something, the further we get from completing it. This, my friends, is the secret nature of the beast. When our focus is on trying to ride the bike, we are focused on trying, instead of riding the bike. When you try to go to sleep, it is almost as if you were squeezing your face shut, willing it to happen. Notice how when you go for a run, you never try to run (unless you are doing it for the first time) it just happens, you just run. I am advising you to change your perception of the word try. Don’t try to change your perception, just change it. Tricky, huh?
At the end of the day, we all want the same thing.
The purpose of whatever we do is not the end goal. As Alan Watts says again, “In music though, one doesn’t make the end of a composition, the point. If that were so, the best conductors would be those who played the fastest. Same with dancing. You don’t pick a point in the room and say ‘That is where I shall arrive.’ The whole point of the dance is to dance.” With that being said, the purpose of life, of setting goals, regardless of the time of year, is not to get there. Deeply ingrained in our genetics, in our souls, the purpose is to learn from the journey. More importantly, to enjoy the journey.
In school, our goal is to get the best grade we can on the tests, so that we can get into a good college. Then the routine repeats, so that we may get a good degree. With that, we are to get a good job, where one day we may finally retire. All throughout the job, we are to meet quotas, goals, driving towards more, doing better than the day before. One day, we get there. One day, if ever, we wake up and think, “Here I am! I made it. I completed my goal.” And it doesn’t feel as good as you thought it would. We expect that once we retire, life will finally be great. I will finally get to breathe. What we don’t realize is, we missed the point. We cheated ourselves. And if this is your mindset, you did it to yourself.
It is a choice. The point all along is just like the music, just like the dance. Moment by moment, minute by minute, day by day, your life is now. Regardless of what goals you set for yourself, regardless of how old you are or what year it is, life is now. It starts now. Your experience, your story, your love, and tragedy is the center of your world. If someone tells you what is going to make you happy, and you listen to them, only to find out they were wrong, that is your fault. You decided to let someone decide for you. The funny, coincidental part of life is that we all want the same thing. To be loved, supported, and validated. The key with this is that we must find it in ourselves first before we can have those things from anyone else.
Make this year better than the last, in the essence of being aware every moment of who you are, and what you want. Set goals for yourself, and actually complete them. Having trouble with that? Set your goals so ridiculously small that you would be foolish not to finish them. You will be surprised at how much more you accomplish, and how much better you feel.
Regardless of whether or not it is 2018, your life is the only one you get. Go do whatever it is you want to do. Start that business. Say what’s on your mind if you feel the time is right. Fall in love with that person, place, or idea. Live your life how you want, and treat others how you would like to be treated, with love and kindness.