This is Part Five in a Six-Part Series about getting to the stuff that really matters this year. If you missed the other parts, start here.
A few years ago, in the 40 or so days prior to Easter, I decided to participated in the age-old tradition of Lent. Now I don’t come from a family that ever even gave a nod to Lent and the bulk of my religious experience has been devoid of such strong connections to a church calendar. In my childhood memory, Lent was for Catholics who needed to fulfill their masochistic tendencies through self-deprivation, primarily by way of giving up soda, candy or ice cream. And we were not Catholic.
But I am a sucker for ritual in petite amounts, so when the idea to do something differently for this limited amount of time popped into my brain, I couldn’t shake it. I wasn’t, however, interested in deprivation. The mere thought of abstaining from anything made me feel depressed and full of cravings. I figured I’d be better off adding something in rather than taking something away.
My choice? Yoga. Everyday for the 40+ days leading up to Easter. Daily yoga was something I always meant to do, but never got around to actually doing. Something I knew would have a positive impact in my life, but easily got pushed to the back burner. (This was also before I had a yoga room.)
My Lenten experiment was successful. Amazingly, delightfully successful.
I’ve been sharing these last two weeks about a process to get to the stuff that really matters to you this year and actually living the new story is where the rubber meets the road. We can identify what matters, clarifying the narratives that are holding us back, map the gap between where we are and where we want to be and craft the elements of the new story we want to be living. But all of this comes in service of living and working differently.
My Lenten experiment provides some guideposts for successfully stepping into a new way of being that I’d like to share with you:
1. Forget about forever. If the mere idea of moving forward with something leaves you seeking out any other diversion, give yourself a time frame. Had I said I was now someone who does yoga everyday, I never would have started. Daily yoga for just 40 days? Done!
2. Focus on only meeting the minimum requirements. My only “rule” for Lenten Yoga was this: everyday you must get on your yoga mat. I didn’t commit to five minutes, 25 minutes or one hour. If I wanted to do five sun salutations and then get back to work, five sun salutations it was. If I wanted to lie in corpse pose until I’d drifted off to sleep, corpse pose it was. Giving myself this permission ensured I’d actually do what I wanted to do and more often than not five sun salutations turned into a full practice.
3. Tell other people. I didn’t tell a lot of people about my plans, but all I needed was a handful. I knew no one was affected one way or the other, but there’s something about speaking your intentions out loud to those who care about you and who will remember your goals that brings the motivation up a notch or two. I chalk it up to pride.
You are already aware that it’s not always easy to take your ideas – whether they are about our creativity, vocation, health, relationships, etc. – off the back burner and begin taking action on them. If you’re looking for a supportive environment in which to make that happen, I hope you’ll hop on over to Jumpstart What Matters Most 2011 and consider filling one of the final spots of this telephone coaching group. The series runs for six months and is going to empower you to get the stuff that matters. I promise!