(Check out Part 1 here.)
I want to seize the moment and better my self. Improve my life. Be the best I can be personally and professionally. I want to DO something with my life. I want to honour the abilities I possess. I have so many good ideas and big dreams. I have goals, man. Goals. Huge ones. But are pursuing lofty goals the best way to go, or is there a better approach?
I recently started researching the issue of goals versus habits and made some very interesting discoveries. I read two articles which frankly, have been life changing:
I don’t want to regurgitate these articles in short form, you should read them yourself. But let me share with you my thoughts and actions as a result of spending time pondering the ideas presented.
Goals are intimidating. And they look huge because, frankly, they are – at least for me. They represent a culmination of a long journey. I have been journeying in music a long time already and know that along the way the ultimate destination may change. It has for me, a few times. So it makes more sense to focus on the journey, what happens day to day, and let the resolution of that journey take care of itself.
Not only does it makes sense, it is much more rewarding to focus energy on what is going to happen today, instead of where you want to be in a year’s time, even though those two things are ultimately related. Daily you have the opportunity to achieve something and feel great. Or maybe you don’t achieve anything but all you have to do is go to sleep before trying again. We all crave instant gratification, right? Let’s use that addiction to our advantage!
The question I now ask myself is: what do I need to do today to move me towards my ultimate goals? What daily habits do I need to form in order to be the person I want to be?
The first one I tackled was journaling. This is an easier one for me because I really enjoy writing. I also paired it with one of my other favorite activities: drinking coffee. I have always known journaling was a good thing for me because of the way I process life, and it was surprising how often I avoided it in the past. When I journal I hold myself accountable and face up to how well, or poorly, I am doing. Not always easy to do, thus the avoidance. I knew that it would therefore be a great tool in helping me develop further habits. I have journaled almost every day since I committed to it in December. It has been good for my mental health and has helped me, as I predicted, in developing other habits.
When deciding what habits to develop I imagined walking to a room in ten years time and seeing myself. What was she like? How did she live? What had she done? Then I thought about what I could do today, tomorrow and the next day to become that person. I made a list of habits to develop to place me on that road and keep me there. I’m happy to share some of them with you, but they aren’t earth shattering. They are simply important to me.
The habits I’m developing include composing more prolifically, practicing piano, moving more (walking, running, yoga), eating better, quality time with loved ones……… I told you: nothing especially remarkable! But every time I journal I check in with myself. How did I do today? If I composed, played piano, did yoga, and ate healthfully then let me tell you: I feel brilliant! And if I didn’t achieve anything then I look to the next day: how can I find a way to fit those things in tomorrow? How is the day shaping up?
The thing I love about all this is that it feels easier, so much easier and much more rewarding. When I look at the habits I want to develop it feels achievable. Fun, even. I do not feel intimidated. Rather I feel empowered.
There is so much more evidence on the power of habits and I encourage you to check it out. Apparently it takes at least two months to develop a new habit. It is not going to happen overnight, nor without a lot of work. But nothing worth doing is easy.
What I have always kept with me on my creative journey is the idea of being relentless. Being a weed, constantly growing, pushing through every obstacles into the light. I know see those habits as making me stronger, each healthy a habit is like a power-up, aiding my relentless pursuit of my creative life.
I will leave you with this post from Mark Manson who asks the question: What are you willing to struggle for? Surely becoming the person we want to do be, and having a fulfilled creative existence, is worth every bit of energy we can muster.
I would love to hear your thoughts. All the best as you continue your creative journey.