I am a self improvement junkie. I love books about improving your life, increasing success, being a better mom, better artist etc. I read a lot of these books - a lot. You'd think that I am a famous artist that lives in a big house on a lake with an enormous backyard and is ridiculously happy. This is not the case. I have big dreams, but as of yet, they are still waiting somewhere for me to find them. I think that I know what I need to do.
I don't think that you can take the actions that these books all suggest some of the time, I think that they need to become habits that you do every single day.
I have read this before, but it never truly sank in, until last night. Every single day, no matter what else is going on, I paint, for a least three hours. When I went to Florida on vacation, the paint came with me. When I am not feeling well, the paint comes to bed with me. It is always, every single day, I never have an excuse. Well, last night I stumbled upon one of my first oil paintings I did over eight years ago. This painting took me almost three weeks to complete and it is - crap! I could finish a better painting in less than two hours now.
At the time that I did the crappy painting I was lucky to get in an hour of painting a day and I would go for weeks without painting at all. It wasn't until about two years ago that I started painting everyday. I learned more in the first month of this practice of painting every single day than in the seven years of painting that came before it, and this is not an exaggeration. I recently decided to really challenge myself and complete on painting a day. This has taught me more than I could ever learn from books or years of painting 'every once in a while'.
When I saw the painting, something within me stirred. I literraly felt a chill of realization, if I could improve my skills this much, just from daily self discipline - than what else could I improve?
I have read it a dozen times, - form better habits, it takes 22 days to form a new habit etc. etc., but I never really heard it.
The other thing that I noticed is that at first, when I started painting everyday, it was an tremendous exercise of will, I had to really force myself. It only took about two weeks for it to feel like food, if I didn't start by the afternoon, I was starving for it.
I have a mission now that I am giving myself, to form better habits. Where do I want to be in ten years from now, and what new habits do I need to develop in order to get there?
I don't know all of them, but I think that some universal success habits will really help me. They are:
* Writing down my specific and measurable goals down and reading them everyday.
* Networking more, with people in my field and outside of my field.
* Being grateful for what I already have.
* Doing the most important things, and saying no to the unimportant things.
* Taking action on my ideas. I have so many that I write down in a notebook, but I have yet to do anything about them.
* Figure out what is working, and what is not, and focus my efforts on what is working.
* Visualization. Research has shown how incredibly effective visualizing your goal as if you've already reached it can be.
* Reading, attending workshops or otherwise learning about my field.
* Practice, practice, practice and practice some more.
* Know what I want, exactly what I really want.
* Don't give up, keep taking action, notice what is working and do it, stop doing what isn't working and keep on taking action. I heard someone once say that if you find that you are in a rut, change one thing to it's opposite. If you find that you aren't selling online, sell off the computer. Go to a store and ask if they sell on consignment, be a vendor at a show, or have your own show - it can't hurt.
* Feel the fear and do it anyway. I love this saying. If no one did what they were afraid to do, or what they were apprehensive about, there would be very few successful people in the world. Not many people would stand out.
I'm still working on a way to make these things every day habits. I think that keeping a planner with a to do list in it and crossing out the unimportant things will help me to keep my focus. I was also thinking of having a short survey that my customers could take so I could figure out what is working and what isn't working. I would give them a discount for taking it ofcourse. There are many steps that I could take to incorporate better habits into my life.