I was listening to a vigorous debate the other day about New Year Resolutions – should you do them? Is it useful and effective? And while I come down on the side of not doing resolutions, mostly because it seems like a hard starting line to do it in the middle of winter when the days are quite literally the darkest, I do reflexively do some meditation on what I learned from the year we are in before moving forward.
The year 2021 was the writing that I started posting to my blog every day. That practice has changed me in ways that I couldn’t have predicted. While I chose every day as my target, I think the lessons would have become apparent given any predetermined interval as long as it was scheduled and not just when I felt like it.
The first thing it changed was how I think about writing. Instead of something to do when I have time and a perfectly framed story in my head, I have come to love it as an integral piece of self-expression and way to process what my life experience. It’s gone from an accessory to an essential part of my life. Along the way, I started to believe I have something to say worth writing down.
Secondly, it made me wrestle with the idea of creativity and inspiration. Often I think of the Madeleine L’Engle’s quote, “Inspiration usually comes during work, rather than before it.” It’s a koan to me, a riddle that doesn’t become clear until I live it and then has many different meanings. This year, that quote has spoken the wisdom to me of starting. There have been many days that I didn’t know what I was going to write but in putting my fingers to the keyboard, the inspiration came. In that way, it was almost a spiritual practice about showing up that I’ve experienced.
And it’s not just what I post but also in reading what other people post and trying to comment thoughtfully on it. It’s the practice of engaging with the work that has inspired me and pushed me farther than I could have imagined.
And finally, the practice of writing every day has also rooted out my desire for perfection. I say desire because perfection is never something I’ve achieved but only tripped over. Instead of futzing with something endlessly in order to have to feel great about it, I use my allotted time in the morning to meditate, write and read before I wake my kids up. Then I have to hit the “publish” button. Sure, that’s meant I have experienced the stab of thinking of one more thing that I could have included, done better or made the connection to but more than that, it’s taught me to move on. And the thing I could have done better becomes the next thing I learn.
All of this comes together in a way that makes me think that while practicing might be the less visible sister to goals, it is an equally powerful tool to set the course of who we want to be and then experience the openness of where it takes us.
The key is to set a schedule instead of doing it when I feel like it. Whether that is doing random acts of kindness every weekend or a plank exercise every weekday, I know that it’ll start an intentional change towards and I’ll learn something interesting just like I did from creating a writing practice.
What about you? Resolutions? Goals? Practice?
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(featured photo from Pexels)