As 2013 drew to a close, I like almost everyone in the world sat back to reflect over the year gone by and the new one approaching. I spent a ton of time reading, thinking and loafing around in between the party sessions. What I realised that I had for the first time in a long time, maybe ever, was an even deeper sense of calm and peace. The feeling that you have something that works, a way of being in the world that feels right, a little effortless. With that realisation and the books I’ve been digging into (Daily Rituals: How Artist’s Work, Steal like an Artist, The Wisdom of Insecurity, etc.) a couple of themes begin to surface.
Process > Outcomes
For 2014, I’ve decided to abandon the popular framework of goals…the obsession with trying to achieve such and such by this time, etc. I’m going for a more process-oriented outlook than a result-oriented approach. I have a very clear vision of what I want more of in my life, but I also understand that it is a process and the jump from point A to point B will not be immediate. Somewhere along the line I might even decide that C is a better fit.
So right now at the start of the year, I’m not putting a lot of focus on if I eventually succeed or not, I’m focusing on what I have control over…doing the work. When I review myself each month, the first things I ask myself are ‘did I put in the time’, did I do the work, did I blog, did I make the art, did I do the reading, did I do the tasks that push the idea forward. Setting and sticking to a day to day routine that allows me to steadily put in work day by day in relation to the projects/goals in place for the year.
Basically it’s a focus on the process of becoming as opposed to focus on the desired result. “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our life” – Annie Dillard. So I don’t judge success by achieving the goal. I succeed by being able to live the right way consistently day by day. To paraphrase a Will Smith quote, “focus on laying this brick as perfectly as you can and soon enough, you will have a wall”
(Bonus Reading: Hunter S. Thompson on Purpose and Living a meaningful life)
Self Expression and long deferred projects
I am taking a bet, embarking on an experiment. My inner intuition has been that I should focus on those things that really interest me. The common advice and tendency is to conform, defer your dreams and work to make enough money to be able to pursue your dream. Though I am a freelance graphic designer and that is one aspect of my dream, there are so many other mediums/products I’ve always wanted to explore. Now these things I’m doing first for the sheer pleasure of it. If the way I spend my days is how I spend my life, then I want my life to have more of the things that interest me and less of an obsession with making money and such. It would not be easy, but I want to see what happens if I focus on my intuition and inspiration in working and creating. How would that affect my life, my relationships, my business?
New, and unfamiliar things/experiences
At the end of last year, I had the overwhelming feeling of being in a rut of doing the same crap every day, every weekend…it was sickening. So new experiences, learning new skills, brushing off old forgotten things are the order of the day now.
Usually, as the year picks up pace, I find myself overwhelmed and clouded by the different needs and motives of people I’m in contact with or do work for. This is a sensation I refer to in my head as falling asleep, becoming progressively numb to my inclinations and inspirations. I conform to the world around me to make money off it and suppress my own opinions or ideas. I want to be more consistently present in my genius so to speak. This is a big reason why the whole self-expression thing is important. On a macro scale, I want to be more open to life, to the universe, to live without expectation and dive in each moment and each day wholeheartedly and really experience things. This is my spiritual practice for 2014…practicing being present.
As a whole, everything I’ve just spoken about is an aspect of the idea of presence. The theme for 2014 is not resolutions or goals or things to achieve. Resolutions are usually things that you feel you SHOULD do, rather than things that you WANT to do. I’m trying to grow and evolve by staying true to my higher desires (which are actually things like being healthier, more creative, better at business, learning). And I follow my path by focusing on the ‘be-ing’, the practice. It is diving into the mundane, the ordinary, the day to day. If I do that well, perhaps without noticing I would also get the ‘things’. But even if I don’t get the ‘things’, the pleasure would be in the doing…and that is even better.