New Year! The ideal time for fresh beginnings. Or is it?
How many times have you started full of good intentions for changing your habits or practices, only to see them fall beside the wayside after a couple of months?
It's not enough to make new year's resolutions about changes and improvements in our creative lives unless we also change both how we approach making these changes and how we deal with the unpredictable results they might throw up.
Instead what normally happens is that we take all the baggage associated with our previous 'failures' at implementing change and we dump it all over our new year strategies - regardless of whether we are trying to implement a change we've attempted before or tackling a brand new challenge.
Get a Fresh Perspective on Your Life
But what if instead of dragging all those old habits into the new year, you could:
Well you can! Zen Buddhists call this approach the ‘Beginner’s Mind’:
"A beginner’s mind is an open mind, an unbiased mind, a welcoming mind, and a curious mind. But it’s not just a cognitive perspective or a mind set; it’s an experiential perspective, a way of being in the world."
Back to the Beginning
In other words, when you adopt the beginner's mindset you stop behaving as a know-it all expert and start approaching things as if you'd never encountered them before; you suddenly see ten possible approaches to any given situation instead of one or two; you stop treading the same well-trodden path and start excitedly forging new openings through virgin territory.
Isn't this just how you would want to start a new year?
New Possibilities Journalling Exercise
This journalling exercise from the book will help you:
In order to get the hang of how this process works, begin by thinking of one area of your life OUTSIDE your artistic practice in which you consider yourself to be an expert e.g. cooking, sewing, DIY, bringing up children and so forth.
(Don't be tempted to skip this part. Once you've done it you'll be much better prepared to apply the beginner's mindset to your creative life.)
Grab a notebook or journal and a pen and consider the following questions when applied to the area of your life you picked:
Make a list of 10 ways in which you could adjust your behaviour with respect to your chosen area of expertise in order to approach it more like a novice.
Jot down a paragraph about the benefits that these actions / adjustments might bring you.
Once you have your answers, let the ideas permeate in your subconscious for a while. You will then be ready to apply the beginner's mindset to your creative life.
Repeat the questioning, this time focussing on an area your creative life in which you feel blocked or in which you would like to make a substantial shift.
Share the insights this process throws up for you in the comments.
All photos © Cherry Jeffs, Spain 2014 - iPhone 5S
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