Looking ahead

Happy New Year! 

One of my resolution for 2016 is to practice more art. I've been pondering on some inspiring thoughts that will hopefully keep me in check. Most of these nuggets are from books I've been reading - notably Fail Fast, Fail Often and Better Than Before. I want to share in case they might help you out too! 

Know what type of person you are when it comes to habits. 
For the longest time, I couldn't understand why I was good at discipling myself with work-related deadlines but horrible at dedicating time for my hobbies - activities that I love and chose to pursue. Then I was enlightened by this idea: all habits can be broken into two types - those motivated by external expectations and internal ones.  Externally based habits are ones that are typically shaped by your job and societal obligations. On the other hand, internal ones are set by yourself, such as "I want to go to the gym more."

Knowing this distinction helped me realize that I am externally motivated (mainly because appearing dependable and acting like an upright citizen is important to me) but I am willing to compromise with personal habits. One possible solution for someone like myself is building accountability as it makes intrinsic habits visible to others. Want to exercise more? Find a gym buddy. Practice more art? Sign up for a class. 

Form goals that feel easy and achievable.
When I was younger, I always believed that goals needed to be grand and big. I didn't see the point in setting something attainable. Now I realize that by breaking down goals into digestible pieces, we're actually more motivated to achieve them because they feel more tangible and less effortful. So instead of saying "I want to start a blog that gains 500K active users by 2017," say "I want to write a blog entry every 2 weeks."

Do it now, and don't overthink it. 
Doing too much research can actually demotivate you to take action, aka "analysis paralysis." This concept really resonated with me because I over research most things. (I'm one of those people who spend way too much time on Yelp looking for dinner options.) Case in point, today I spend 2+ hours looking for the "perfect" art class to take. Near the end, I was so fatigued with my options that I almost wanted to shelve it for another day. However, I reminded myself that I feel motivated now so I need to capitalize on the momentum and take action now. No regrets.  

Embrace the mindset of a beginner. 
Finally, one of my biggest epiphanies going into the new year: not everything needs to be a reflection of my intelligence. This is something that I want to constantly remind myself at work and in life. Likewise, not every piece of art needs to reflect my ability and talent. Don't aim for perfection, aim to get better through relentless practice. There should be no shame in embracing Day 1 mentality when striving for greatness.