A Lesson from Yoga for Getting Things Done
Chasing your dreams is so much easier said than done, isn’t it?
I had big plans for myself and my business about 18 months ago. I’d just spent a lot of time and money re-branding my image, re-designing my website, and plotting the path to new levels of success.
I was reading and writing more, and had lined up some really exciting speaking gigs, building momentum in all the right ways.
But you already know the story – a teeny-tiny little virus had other plans for me and the rest of the world.
When the WHO declared a pandemic in mid-March of 2020 I watched hundreds of thousands of dollars in future work vanish right before my eyes. Now I know I had it much easier than a lot of people; after all I managed to avoid getting sick, and I still had the means to feed and house myself. But when it came to my personal and professional goals, I gave up.
I started to replace all the good habits I’d been building over years with bad ones. I shifted away from creating into full consumption-mode, and justified my unhealthy choices in the name of “self-care”.
In short, I quit on myself. And I know a bunch of you quit on yourselves too.
It’s oddly comforting to know I’m not alone here. I’ve spoken with countless people who share my story. I mean, even before there was a worldwide public health crisis, people have been setting goals, making plans, and quitting at the first sight of adversity.
I have known people to get onto a new nutrition plan, have one “cheat” meal, and throw the whole plan away.
I’ve also known companies who have tried to implement a new employee appreciation program but end up abandoning the project because employees don’t seem to appreciate the ways they were being appreciated.
I’ve seen entrepreneurs invest months into the development of a new product only to quit on it because the launch didn’t immediately achieve the results they were after.
Setting goals is relatively easy, making plans is fun and energizing, but carrying out the plans is never as smooth as we might hope. We are inevitably going to come up against roadblocks, speed bumps, forks in the road. And quitting saves us the effort of figuring out how to get past these barriers.
Plus, if we’ve made ANY attempt at all, we can at least tell ourselves we tried. And then we have an excuse to never try again.
Quitting on our goals is one of the great human equalizers. It’s something we all have in common. We are united in our capacity to underperform. Which is kinda funny. And kinda sad.
Thankfully, as easy as it is to walk away from a personal or professional goal, it can be just as easy to come back to it.
I was reminded of this in a yoga class this week.
I logged into the virtual studio space and lied on my yoga mat waiting for the teacher to get started.
She logged in, said hello, and before she started leading the postures she said a few words that stuck with me.
“Thank yourself for making it back to your mat today. The hardest part of the yoga practice is getting here, and you’ve done that. Now celebrate it by enjoying the rest this hour we have together.”
The hardest part is getting to the mat. Showing up. Getting started.
The second hardest part is getting BACK to the mat. Starting again.
As my teacher suggested it didn’t matter that I wasn’t particularly interested in practicing that night. Nor did it matter how my last class went, or what my post-yoga schedule looked like. I made it back to the mat, and that’s what enabled me to do the work.
There’s a reason we call yoga a practice – it involves repetition, intention, and effort. A practice embraces a process. And while we start yoga with some outcome or objective in mind, we acknowledge that the practice itself is what will deliver the results.
I’ve found it remarkably helpful to think about the other parts of my life not as things I want to accomplish, but as practices I want to incorporate.
So I’m coming back to my mat, not just in yoga, but in other areas of my life. I’m re-setting my goals, and re-plotting my paths to achieving them. I’m scheduling time to get the work done, and then I’m focusing all my energy on showing up, on the hardest part.
What goals have you cast aside this past year? What would you like to achieve personally? Interpersonally? Professionally?
What if it wasn’t too late to revisit those goals? What if you could acknowledge your past behaviours without judgment, schedule some time to return to the practice of achieving them, and then focus your energy on showing up. Come back to your mat. Trust in the process of practice.
My guess is you’ll start to experience your own magic soon enough, and then there’s no limits to what you’ll accomplish.