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Bite-sized ideas for 2022

I don't need to remind anyone of the custom of making new year's resolutions - no matter how infamously difficult they are to keep [check out Grey's video about it if you got the time]. However, I have a couple of thoughts I felt compelled to share (after all, advice is the worst vice). The following ideas are aimed at myself, but with a bit of luck you might find them useful as well.

Do something new everyday

Sometime routine is comforting, but it can also feel like a cage on the long run. Anyone caught up in the old 9 to 5 can probably relate. If you're lucky you are happy with your day to day, but you wouldn't eat your favorite dish everyday, would you?

Challenge yourself

Growth is one of my core values. As optimistic that feels, I hope I will continue moving forward till the day I die. Sadly enough, it's difficult to grow from the comfort of my own armchair. I learn better when I do something that is at least a little tiresome.

And believe me, I don't like to sweat. I go to the gym thrice a week and the treadmill is a bore, plus keeping focus doing reps is hard. Yet, I can't expect to get in better shape by sitting on my arse. The brain is not much different; it needs challenge to get out of the auto-pilot mode and really learn.

Embrace failures

Related to the above point. When you enter a new area, you try out a new skill or a new social setting, you might fail. Actually you are likely to fail. I realized my first completed novel might be a big heap of fuming hot mess (yay).

What is hard to hear (and harder to accept) is that failure is the best teacher. Only when you mess it up you get the chance to do it better, and in a way failure is the gateway to success.

The saying goes "you miss all the shots you don't take", and it's damn catchy. The deeper truth is that you can't let fear prevent you from taking that shot, and you can't reasonably expect to score each time you do. (Of course, you need an environment that allows you to fail safely, but that's another issue).

Failure is an outcome, not a person

As much as you need to embrace failures, there's no reason to dwell on them. I'd like to have a "learn&forget" approach - failing fast, taking what I can from it, and then go forward. It's too easy for the mind to get stuck on mishaps and infer some general truth: "I messed up that time, I'll do it again". While it is natural to feel ashamed, shame is not productive.

In short, don't let failure define you.

Celebrate successes

If we need to reframe the idea of failure, success needs to get the same treatment. You might be tempted to discount any goal the second after you've accomplished it. This is especially true for people plagued with the over-achiever mindset, like myself.

I'm willing to bet that you already overcame some pretty rough patches in your life, and now, looking back, they don't seem a big deal. Sometimes tho it's useful to stop chasing the Next Big Thing for a second and think. We need to remember that we did a good job, we deserved what we reached, and that we can do it again.

There's much to be grateful for anyway

We're used to consider worthy of celebration only big wins - getting a degree, a promotion, a deal. Regardless how important, those events are rare and far apart, and they are often the product of day-to-day smaller tasks.

Sometimes you need to feel grateful for the small stuff as well. Personally, each day I can put words on a page is a good day; I just need to remind myself of that. I also consider wins keeping in touch with my friends and family, having a good exercise session, eating a good meal. The internet is full of suggestions on how to practice gratefulness (so take your pick).

Practice compassion... and start with yourself

This will always be an hard one for me. Being a very critical (and self critical) person, I tend to assume the worst. Someone messes up? They must be have done so on purpose. A short story gets rejected? It wasn't good enough. Someone's tone sounds off? They're angry.

Having a critical eye gives you an edge sometimes, but I don't need to show you how quickly this can go south if left unchecked. If you set your mind to it, the world can become full of ill-spirited people. On average thought it's unrealistic. Most people, like you, are doing their best on a process of trial and error.

Compassion means forgiveness for little things. And if it makes sense to be compassionate for people close to us, why wouldn't we apply the same method to ourselves?

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