One little step. Take one small action. Make small the new “big.”
Right now it is December 10th but it feels like the New Year has already begun. I’ve joined a gym and I am actually going. I’ve initiated the process of exploring a spiritual community. I’m not waiting for the New Year to get moving on projects and ideas.
It all started by going through my book shelves. I finally realized that I was getting tired of having so many books that I hadn’t read. I made the decision to go through each shelf methodically, reading at least page in each book and stopping when I got bored with the whole process. Part of what has sparked so much learning these past few years has been my experience with All Japanese All the Time, which emphasizes working with working with the “neutrino” of small actions accumulating to immersion in Japanese. The “mediocre choice that leads to excellence” can be applied to other things that you want to shift in your life.
Once I started going through the simple act of one page of every book on my shelves, I experienced a quickening. I gave myself permission to stop but as I went through my books, the old dreams and inspirations were rekindled and I continued. When I got to the bottom of the shelf in my bedroom, I decided to make a pass around the whole apartment, slowly reviewing, cleaning, reorganizing, tossing, and reigniting ideas, projects and resources.
The new year is approaching and for some people it is a time to set big goals and make major transformations. But why not start the New Year now with some small action. Make small the new big and start by picking one “corner” to begin with. Clean out your purse (or murse). Be gentle with yourself. Celebrate and move on. Repeat. Make every day a New Years Day.
How can you water your dreams? Your mind? Your soul? Set up gentle “systems” for yourself to sustain growth and wonder.
I just finished my Building Your Personal Foundation course through CoachU, taught by Susan Abrams. I was excited and challenged and by the idea of creating “automatic sprinkler systems” to fulfill various needs. For example, I realized that one of my needs was energy. Last week I joined the YMCA located near by job. Oh yeah, and I actually went. Y-M-C-A!
Needs may not be completely satisfied but it seems that you can at least create systems that challenge you in that area and increase the potential of moving forward. For example, one of the needs that I isolated was the need for motivation and inspiration. I may not be motivated or inspired all the time but I have started to play with some systems and rituals that have the potential of kicking me back into motivation and energy. Here are some of my “systems”:
- What I read–I’ve always been kind of a self-help book junkie but I’ve added a few titles to my kindle: Words Can Change Your Brain and Loving What Is. Both of these books were suggested by Susan Abrams. I keep the reading process fun. When I am no longer inspired by what I am reading I move on to the next title and then switch back.
- Who I hang out with: people provide the frameworks and conversations that can motivate and inspire you. Part of the benefits of starting the coach training program is that I get to talk to people who are focused on moving forward I’ve also been experimenting with finding a positive spiritual community.
- What I write and say: I am not censoring myself but I am playing around with something I call “Happiness Journal.” Inspired by a little page from Words Can Change Your Brain, I am taking time in the mornings and evening to write three things that made me happy.
Finally, I realized that my samurai mind notebook is actually one of my automatic sprinkler systems. If I put ideas from projects and quotations that excite me, review them regularly, I have those thoughts as part of the conversation. I may not listen to them but at least they may challenge the crappy mood and change the terms of what I think is possible.
What I like about everything that I’ve been hearing and encountering is that none of it commits me to becoming a happiness robot. All the work I’ve come across acknowledges that there will be periods of darkness and –err–shades of gray. I think the trick will be to set up “systems” that challenge the darkness without becoming inflexible or ignoring the depth and color of life. Join me. What are your sprinkler systems?
Sometimes you have to suck to get the creativity and productive “flow” going.
The other day I had a memory of a time when someone needed to transfer gas from a friend’s car to make it to the gas station. He took a hose, held it at a certain angle, sucked some gasoline through the hose, and started the flow of gasoline to his container. (Don’t try this at home, folks!) He was able to get his car started, make it to the gas station, and go on with gasoline mouth self.
Sometimes you just have to suck to get the flow going. I experienced that lately with my samurai mind notebook. I haven’t really been filling up pages and have been really slow about doing my reviews. There are so many pressing matters, blah, blah, blah. But I decided that I could at least set my timer to five minutes and just write a little and review a little. I felt a little resistance at first but after a while my notebook became fun again. Ah, the benefits of suckage.
I was introduced to the concept of “suckage” when I came across alljapaneseallthetime.com when I decided to learn Japanese. Khatzumoto, the webmeister, explains that learning a language is best done when you can break it up into a series of “short winnable games.” I learned to embrace “suckage” and use timers to turn study sessions into a game. In his article, “Intermediate Angst: Dealing with Feelings of Suckage” Khatzumoto explains:
If you want to win the long game, stop playing it.
Stop running the marathon and start sprinting instead.
Start running and playing and winning short games instead.
Start the suckage and run. (Mixed metaphor alert.) Turn resistance into a short, winnable game and turn resistance into flow. Dame la gasolina!