The Path of Humility
When we make New Year's resolutions, we're defining limits around ourselves. We reflect on our strengths, our weaknesses and from there determine who we hope to become within the year. The problem is, we often fail. We place so much emphasis on who we hope to become, that the process getting there becomes intimidating and overwhelming. Shifting focus from the results of our resolutions to the process it takes to get there, can challenge our pride, shed light on how other people affect our goals, and clarify how we shape and define ourselves through practice.
Whether or not our resolutions pertain to our industry, goals of any nature can often fluctuate, making year-long resolutions difficult to define. I've experienced this problem firsthand, and failing to meet my resolutions year after year eventually made me realize my biggest obstacle, was myself.
As I defined my resolutions for 2014, I came face-to-face with how much improvement I needed in certain areas of my life––for example, in my writing. In response, my pride became an obstacle. I asked myself if anyone cared about my writing, and feared people would judge my ability to create coherent thoughts.
Blinded by these assumptions, I judged myself before anyone else could. I compared my abilities to the abilities of others, and thought that I couldn't possibly meet the expectations of readers. Engaging in these negative comparisons often stops us before we even have a chance to start our resolutions. Unfortunately, it’s to be something most of us have been doing for a long time.
Growing up, we tried to understand what our teachers looked for in papers and projects, and then strived to meet those expectations. We tailored our work to the tastes of friends, family, peers, and superiors to receive approval and acceptance. In seeking to measure up to the standards and values of others, we've neglected the most important person when we make our resolutions: ourselves.
In comparing ourselves to others, we aren't realizing and acting on our goals. It's only when you compare your present self with your past selves, that you find progression––and you can only find that through practice. Whether it's exercising daily, eating a healthier meal everyday, or (in my case) writing 1000 words every morning, we improve, with every action we make. This doesn't involve showing others what you've done through Twitter or Facebook. We should seek personal improvement for our own satisfaction and enjoyment, not for the pleasure of receiving "likes".
I find myself thinking and approaching goals the way I did as a child. I learned how to draw by drawing everything I saw. I learned how to play the violin by ear because I was terrible at reading music. Now I'm learning to write simply by choosing to write everyday. But it requires some humility. Becoming aware of your own strengths and weaknesses leads to progress, but makes us self-conscious and potentially fearful of failure. Even if you're a terrible writer or don't have a completely fit body, there's only one way to go, and that's up. With every step we take, we discover joy in the process of pursuing our resolutions. I've found joy in the process of rewriting this post eight times, because I know that it sharpens my skills as a writer and helps me organize my thoughts. By embracing this humility, we can fashion ourselves through what we practice, not just through what we say our resolutions are.