Does flying across the country on Friday to for a Saturday speaking gig make me a jet-setter?
If so, I’d like to put in for a minimal Business Class upgrade next time, please.
Seriously, my trip to Connecticut to speak at the CTPPA 68th Annual Convention went smoothly, and my presentation went great. I got wonderful feedback, I sold some books, and I think half the audience whipped out their smartphones to video record me when I played my ukulele.
That was pretty fun.
This is the kind of magic that can happen when you say “yes” to opportunities.
Falling Off the Wagon
AND, when you say “yes,” it can also throw your schedule totally out of whack.
The past few weeks I’ve been something of wreck. My nerves have been drawn taut, my shoulders have been up to my ears with anxiety and tension.
I was so afraid I wouldn’t have my hour-long presentation memorized. And/or that the technology wouldn’t work out.
There were so many things that had the potential to go wrong, it was crazy-making. And until I had taken this particular version of this particular speech out on its maiden voyage, I was just going to be a bundle of nerves, no getting around it.
I hate to admit it, but so many of my regular routines and rituals got thrown under the bus in the madness of preparing for this trip.
So now I’m home, and things are starting to calm down a bit. (Correction: Life doesn’t ever really calm down entirely — there are always new monkey wrenches flinging themselves into the works, but at least I’m coming up for air from this particular all-consuming monkey wrench.)
Getting Back On the Wagon
This is where I get to practice what I preach.
Of all the practices we engage in: yoga practice, meditation practice, going to the gym practice, creative practice… the most important practice of all is just getting back on the wagon.
And doing so with great gentleness and self-compassion.
So today I wanted to get back onto the regular workout wagon. A year ago I was working out regularly, intense workouts, 30-60 minutes a day, five to six days a week. It was great!
Then I decided to get my book done, and it all went to hell.
Though to be fair, my workout practice was sliding away long before I decided to do the push to get the book done. But once I made the decision to get my book done in a three month period, that was pretty much the death knell of that particular practice.
So how do get back on the wagon?
Well, as my friend Patti Digh put it so pithily when I told her that the most important practice is just getting back on the wagon,
“Then you’d better make sure that wagon is really short.”
In other words, think tiny.
Or, as my Creative Sandbox Way Guidepost #4 puts it, “Think tiny & daily.” Ridiculously achievable. Stupidly small.
Instead of making it a goal to practice ukulele for an hour, make your goal to strum ONE CHORD!
Yes, THAT tiny. I really mean stupidly small.
Why? Because when your commitment or goal is that ridiculously achievable, then you’re actually going to make it happen.
And when you fall off the wagon again (which you will, because you’re human, and life happens), it’s so much easier to get back on!
So back to today.
My initial thought was to do yoga or a cardio workout for an hour.
Yeah, right — I don’t have time for that!
Well, okay, maybe a half hour…
Um.. Wait a minute, I thought to myself. Is that really ridiculously achievable? Why don’t I take a page from my own book?
So I did. I did a TEN-MINUTE yoga workout, and a THREE-MINUTE plank workout.
Ridiculously achievable, so I actually did it.
Which sent a message to my brain that, “yes, you can do this!” Instead of yet one more day of “you’re a failure,” which never helps.
Let me tell you, “yes, you can do this!” feels GREAT!
Sure, it may feel stupidly small, but a stupidly small success is way better than a string of impressive failures that once again I’ve never managed to achieve.
So this is my plan for getting back on the wagon. With my workouts. With my creative practice. With my meditation practice (which, yes, I’ve also fallen off the wagon on. Again.)
Remember, the problem is never the falling off. You can fall off a zillion times, and in the scheme of problems, this is such a non-problem that it doesn’t even count as a problem.
The problem only comes when you don’t ever get back on the wagon.
Which is why it’s so important to keep that wagon short, and to treat yourself with love and kindness, so it’s super easy to hop back on.
The Key to a Consistent Practice
People think that the key to a consistent practice is self-discipline.
Studies have proven over and over again that the key to a consistent practice is actually self-forgiveness.
The people who forgive themselves when they stumble in their commitments, these are the people who succeed in the long run, regardless of the goal. People who beat themselves up, on the other hand, these are the people who never get back on track the next day.
This makes a lot of sense if you think about it, because if you know you’re going to stumble (because you’re human! and life happens!), and you know you’re going to beat yourself up when you stumble, then it becomes easier and less painful to just stop trying.
And remember: doubling up on tomorrow’s commitment because you skipped today’s commitment is a form of beating yourself up!
So yes, notice when you stumble, and how it feels when you miss your commitment, compared to when you are consistent. But use that awareness as an opportunity to practice forgiveness and self-compassion.
Remember my Golden Formula: self-awareness + self-compassion = the key to everything good
Go get creating!
Thanks for Listening!
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