Every January, I hear the same upbeat roundtables on NPR asking listeners to call in with their resolutions for the coming year. Without fail, someone calls in saying this is the year they’ll finally get in shape. Someone else says this year is the year they finally use their passport. Maybe this will be their year, but only if they’re one of the 8% of Americans who actually keep their New Years Resolutions.
The great thing about making a resolution is that if you fail to keep it, there’s always next January to talk about trying it again. I say that as someone who has never been good at keeping resolutions. And how can I be? I’ve realized my goals for self-improvement, in work and life, can’t be confined to a resolution. At this point, I’m less interested in the resolution itself than I am the process of maintaining my creativity, my health and my well-being.
In art school, more than anything, I was taught the importance of process. Everything is process and process is everything. Very few of us are gifted with the ability to create the best user experiences instantaneously. Rarely are our first sketches the best ones. I find the same to be true in life – either in the office, where I’m always trying to be better at annotating my time sheets, or at the gym, where, last week, I ran a 10-minute mile for the first time in my life. Neither of those things happened over night. None of my work happens overnight. None of your work should happen overnight, either.
I didn’t start going to the gym to run a 10-minute mile. I started going to the gym to keep myself sane and healthy. I want to grow stronger every day and I’m committed to that process. In my work, I’m committed to the process of sketching my ideas, talking them out and remaining flexible to create the best work I can. And if I fail, I know I have a process to return to as I iterate further. This week, toss out your resolutions and break them into a process. What’s something you can achieve this week? What’s something you can achieve next week? What are small, actionable goals you can set for yourself every day to get yourself to where you need to be?
Commit to the process.