I'm on record as saying that I don't do New Year's resolutions. They're largely a waste of time and they set you up for failure. And that failure results in less motivation and less productivity.
One alternative is to focus on results. Ask yourself what you want the end result to look like, then work backwards. What will have to happen to get that result?
The other day I was shooting baskets, and I wasn't having much success. Mostly, I was just chucking the sphere at the hoop. The more I missed, the more I just thought, "Well, try it again!" You know what they say about insanity, right?*
Finally, after missing many shots in a row, I thought, "What am I not doing right?" I had been focusing on my feet, my arm/hand position, release, follow through, etc., but I had forgotten what needed to happen at the hoop - for the ball to go through! That simple thought reminded me of a key concept, that of "dropping" the ball on top of the hoop.
Instantly, my release angle changed, my elevation (such as it is) improved, and my posture straightened up. Miraculously, the ball started to go through the hoop. It sounds simple, but just by knowing what needed to happen at the end of the process, my brain automatically changed the beginning.
Like my shooting baskets without thinking about the end result, many resolutions are basically nice gestures, but ultimately useless. When I hear people say they need to, "exercise more," or, "eat less junk," or, "start saving money," I usually cringe. Unless you connect those good intentions to an end result, they're almost worse than not making resolutions at all.
Join me in a little mental exercise, will you? Just take a minute to think about the next few scenarios.
Let's say you played fifty paying gigs last year - and that's cool - but you want to double that number this year. What would you have to do to play one hundred paying gigs this year? What would you do first, then next? Whose help would you need? What would need to change about how you run your business?
Or maybe there's an audition you want to prepare for and take. Where do you need to start? What instruments do you need to get? Do you need to study with someone?
Whether it be a technique goal or an earning goal, number of gigs played or something else, this same process can apply. What will the end result be? What do you need to do first (right now!), and what is next? If you keep your eye on the final goal, the process will usually make itself clear.
*It's a colloquialism by now, but, "Insanity is doing the same thing you did before and expecting a different result."
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