It’s the first Monday of the New Year. Many of us are heading back to work, many of us are shaking off a hangover, many of us are ready for a new year. I know you want to be motivated; I know you want to hit the ground running. And while that is nice, what I really think you want to do (or at least I hope you want), is to actually improve. At something, at anything, perhaps even at everything.
The temptation is to leap out of the gate feeling boundless. To take whatever energy you’ve stored up over the holiday break and just start running. Feel free to go right ahead, but I promise you1, it won’t last.
If you want to improve as a whole, or even just improve on something specific, you need to go about things differently. You have to get ready to suck. You have to brace yourself to be really bad at something for a really long time. You have to take a long-term approach so that so that at the end of the year, you’re actually better.
I’m not trying to ruin the start of the year and I’m not trying to bring you down. I’m just suggesting a different approach: that you start slowly, dig in for the long haul and that you come back a year from now all the better for it. Take a realistic approach to improvement. Plan out your steps, stagger your efforts, and make smart choices that move you in the right direction.
Last year, I sucked, a lot, but I leaned in, worked through it and came out better. Nowhere near where I want to be, but better. This year, I can’t wait to suck again, to look back at the end of the year, assess what I accomplished and plan for the next year.
Even though it’s counter intuitive, give yourself room to be really bad at the thing that you want to get good at. Give yourself time, as it’s impossible to change quickly. Know what you want, figure out the best way to actually accomplish it, create realistic timeframes (and by realistic, I mean painfully slow). Go one thing at a time, continue to build a strong foundation while working towards your goal and you’ll be surprised how far you can go in the span of a year.
Here’s to 2012 and to sucking enough to make it a great one!
What are you looking to suck at this year?
Speaking from experience here… ↩