The word for 2014: ‘Practice’

Every year for the new year I don’t make resolutions as such, but instead think of a theme, a motto or word that will guide my thinking and activities for the year coming up ahead (in 2009 it was LEARN, in 2010 it was FOCUS, in 2011 it was ENJOY and in 2013 it was BE MINDFUL. I seemed to have skipped 2012).

So how did my theme for 2013 fare? On the whole, I think pretty well. Mindfulness is pretty hot right now, with everyone from Silicon Valley to mainstream medicine getting to grips with it. And I’m becoming more and more interested in neuroplasticity, how we learn, how the mind works and what effect being mindful has on the brain. This past year has been interesting on a personal and professional front, with both highs and lows and mindfulness helped me enjoy the highs more and make the lows less low.

But… and there’s always a but, as I was thinking about what I want 2014’s theme to be, I kept on thinking about practice. Buddhists talk about practice and everyone’s heard about how it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become proficient at something. I read Carol Dweck’s Mindset over the past year and what really spoke to me was the difference between a fixed mindset (“I’m clever so I can’t fail at things because otherwise I wouldn’t be clever”) vs an open mindset (“I’m going to try this and keep trying until it works, failure will help make me better”).

So I’ve decided that that’s my focus for this year: practice. I will fail. In life, in work, in blogging, in parenthood, in being a wife, a friend, a family member. I have failed a lot. And I’ve succeeded a lot. But rather than think that’s that, I’ve failed, so I suck, moving on to something which is safer and more likely for me to succeed at, I’m going to try changing my mindset about it. Practice means just that: practicing with a view to become better at it. Whatever the ‘it’ is.

And the other side to practice too: you are what you do. Talking’s all well and good, but your actions speak louder than words. So I’ll practice what I preach this year.

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