Whew, another year is almost behind us. Crazy. It feels like a week at most since I last sat down with my Year-At-A-Glance calendar and laid out what I wanted to accomplish in 2015, complete with a symbol key—but it’s time to do it again. And time to nag you to follow my lead, regarding whatever it is you want to do this year. Lucky you!
I was talking to someone recently about my writing life. She commented on my “dedication” and “organization”—and added, “You are so disciplined.” Even reflecting on her words makes me want to duck my head and deflect the compliment. Dedicated and organized? Who me? Nah. Disciplined—ahahahahahahaha—good one.
Except that it’s time—maybe past time, actually—that I face up to and accept this part of myself. I am dedicated to things I want to achieve and I love to work. I derive huge amounts of joy and satisfaction from what I do (whenever I’m not simultaneously overwhelmed by neuroses and insecurity, that is!), and I believe that whenever possible we should pursue those things in life that make us uniquely us and make us happy.
I used to worry this was selfish of me—but now I don’t believe it is. I’ve spent a lot of time around deeply unhappy people and . . . it’s sad and awful and takes years to recover from. Hopefully, I’m modeling something worthwhile to my children and miscellaneous other people. You don’t have to live between the lines drawn by other people; you can create your own.
And you don’t have to fly off the rails, quit your job and move to Mexico either. It really only takes small changes to start working on the secret dreams and passions that burn in your belly.
The person also asked if I had any tips or “secrets” about accomplishing what I set out to. I do, in fact. Three of them—and they’re all you’ll ever need. (Well, plus a magic feather, but those are more difficult to come by.)
1) Permission. If you need a formal okay, look no further: I give you permission. In fact, I insist. Take that class, do that practice, write those words, join that club, plan that new business venture, do that thing, whatever it is. And don’t worry about what your spouse, parents, kids, or friends think. Even if they’re resistant or resentful at first, they need you to be your most authentic self, too. They just don’t realize it yet. **Note: This permission bit is a trick. You really only need permission from yourself. Stop being so mean. Give it to yourself now.**
2) A 15-minute commitment at least three times a week. You can find fifteen minutes per day, no matter how busy you are. Yes, you can. (And if you won’t, you have to ask yourself if it’s really something you want to do or if it’s an old dream that you need to replace. It’s fine if it’s the latter. Don’t beat yourself up over changed goals. Embrace something new!)
3) Resiliency, or as my parents used to call it, bullheadedness. Someone, or a lot of people, will say you’re wasting your time or kidding yourself. Worse, your own fears, insecurities, and guilt complexes are going to try to shut you down. Don’t give in. Practice, run, write, draw, sing, play through it. Resistance is the strongest and the negative voices are the loudest before you start for the day. Once you settle into your task, they’ll shut up and slink off until next time.
That’s it. No magic—but honestly, you don’t need magic. You just need desire, stubbornness, and the knowledge, hard as it is, that no one else cares if you do the thing you really want to do. Only you do. It’s not because they’re awful or because they don’t love or understand you. . . . It’s because some things are purely personal; no one else can truly know what you need to do. It’s up to you. Do it.
Wishing you a wonderful New Year full of daydreams that shape reality, steps that become a path, and enough chutzpah that folks around say, Wow, what’s got into you?
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
“Wishing you . . . chutzpah!” by me, Ev Bishop, was originally published in the Terrace Standard, December 30, 2015 as my monthly column “Just a Thought.”