Monday, December 31, 2007

Boycott new year's resolutions!

Have you ever noticed that whenever you make a new year's resolution, you hardly ever keep it? I don't think I even know anyone who has made a resolution and kept it. And if I did, I probably disowned them as a friend—because who wants a friend who is that perfect. Sheesh.

Have you ever stopped to wonder why no one keeps their new year's resolutions?

Maybe it's because new year's resolutions are usually really big things that are nearly impossible to achieve anyway. They're usually things like: I'm going to quit smoking (super hard); I'm going to lose 50 pounds (probably as hard as quitting smoking); I'm going to exercise every day (ugh!); I'm going to get a new job, go back to school, move, stop listening to my family, eat healthy, and so on. All very difficult changes to make.

At least they are difficult to make in a new-year's-resolution format of change, which is as if you are turning an on switch and you magically stop smoking and lose the weight and exercise every day and love it. We just love setting impossible goals for ourselves, don't we? What the heck is wrong with us?

Change just doesn't happen that way, at least not in my experience. Not lasting change, anyway. Take losing weight. I've tried the approach of looking at losing 35 pounds. When I didn't lose 10 pounds in my first week of diet and exercise, I gave up. It was only when I went to Weight Watchers and understood that losing one to two pounds per week was excellent progress that I was able to lose all 35 pounds. I've gained some of that weight back over the years, but I have maintained healthy eating habits and an exercise routine, and those are positive, long-term changes.

The only resolution I'm making this year is to break down my big goals into smaller steps. I'm rewriting a manuscript. My goal is to get it done now—right now, this instant. Pretty impossible without being able to manipulate the time-space continuum. So, what I am doing is working on it every day. That is my real resolution—rewrite that manuscript every day. And then, I pay myself every time I work on it. I put a dollar in a jar on my desk. When I have enough money in the jar, I'll treat myself to something I want.

If you want to make a change or achieve a certain goal, try breaking it down into small, achievable pieces, and reward yourself for completing those small pieces.

Join me in my boycott of new year's resolutions. Resolutions shmesolutions!

And have a happy, healthy and creative 2008.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Eleanor Roosevelt wants to know: Have you scared yourself lately?

One of my favorite quotes is from that great woman Eleanor Roosevelt:

"Do one thing every day that scares you."

I often repeat her words to myself when I am feeling less than confident about something I have to do. For instance, I'm a shy person by nature and large social gatherings aren't always my cup of tea. I never think I'm good at small talk or carrying a conversation—certainly not as good as some of my friends and family. So, whenever I am faced with entering a large social gathering and feeling nervous, I tell myself, "Do one thing every day that scares you."

Why? Because one way of understanding fear is as a challenge, and by facing challenges we grow. Maybe we handle the challenge beautifully and learn that we have skills, strengths and gifts of which we were not aware. Or maybe we don't handle it so well and make mistakes, but if we take time to reflect on those mistakes, we can learn from them and do better the next time we are faced with the same or similar challenge.

Your Creative Kick in the Butt is to take Eleanor Roosevelt's advice and do one thing every day that scares you. It can be something small like taking on a task you've been avoiding because you're not so confident about it, or embracing that presentation you have to do for work or school instead of resisting it. Or it could be something big, like changing your job or trying something brand new that you've been afraid to try. But it doesn't always have to be something big. Sometimes big growth comes in small risks.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

"If you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with anything original."--Sir Ken Robinson on Creativity

I found this video on another blog. Sir Ken Robinson, a creativity expert and the author of "Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative," gives a very funny and insightful assessment of public education and how it impedes creativity. Along with the title of this post, he also says in this speech, "We don't grow into creativity, we grow out of it." He has some interesting points about public education and how it shapes us that made me think about my own education and how it shaped me. It's definitely worth the 15 minutes to watch. It will make you laugh, too.