…It’s how you play the game. This was always mildly annoying when my parents would quote this to me, attempting to quell my stinging tears when my brothers had beaten me at Monopoly (which as a mother I’ve redubbed Monotony as I find it too close to real-life problems). I wanted to be the winner, at all costs.
It’s that time of year, when everyone is posting their New Year’s Resolutions. It always seems like a great time to come clean, to let other people know what your weaknesses are. To admit you have weaknesses that need improvement.
But what happens three months down the line, when you are still struggling with those ten extra pounds, with procrastination, with being impatient with your kids?
There has been a popular viral blog post on Facebook this month about the virtues of NOT being goal-driven. At first I didn’t even want to approach this concept, as I am very goal-driven as an athlete and a musician. If I don’t have a race, or a time, or a concert or a difficult passage of music to tackle, then I feel lost. I get lazy.
There are merits to this argument that is circulating, however. Focus on the process, not the end result.
Really? Truly. If you don’t enjoy the process, or focusing on an effort, you may be disappointed if you don’t achieve a singular result. Being open to several outcomes is more fruitful than one single outcome, or goal. For instance, you might not lose 10 pounds, but you might adopt a healthier relationship with food by identifying when you start to eat; is it during some sort of emotional vacuum, or through boredom, or when you are just plain thirsty for a glass of water?
So this year I am going to embrace the new order and focus on several methods of being that I want to adopt. Goals do go hand in hand with these, but mostly I want to enjoy practicing my cello again. I’ve been burnt out on this as I only see practicing as a way of learning music for work. I want to discover the joy of making my cello hum with a good tone, interpret new music I haven’t explored, and work on intonation. Just for myself. It may pay off come concert-time, but I don’t want to JUST have that in mind.
Ditto for exercise: I want to enjoy long runs. I want to find my rhythm in the pool again and enjoy that meditative state where I forget to count laps. I want to ride my bike outside this spring and revel in gorgeous rolling Iowa hills. And I want to share all of this with friends.
This may pay off; I may end up completing an Olympic Triathlon like I’ve dreamed of for the past few years. I may play a solo cello recital in the spring or audition for a job interview for a full-time job. But mostly I want to bask in the moment, savoring each challenge that comes up.
Happy New Year to all of you! Enjoy the path to happiness.