New Year’s Resolutions are dumb.
They’re always the same. We throw out the Snickers and stock the fridge with hummus and vegetables. We buy new workout shoes and go for a jog. Three weeks later, we’re back to binge-watching Parks and Rec while eating a whole pint Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food (I have never done this…).
New Year’s Resolutions are also arbitrary.
If we need to stop a bad habit or form a better one, why wait until January 1st? If we get the itch to create something, why not just start while we have the inspiration and motivation.
92% of New Year’s Resolutions Fail (Forbes). Whether it’s eating healthier, getting in shape, or starting that blog, only 8% of people achieve those goals. Why? Because we don’t set ourselves up for success. In fact, we do just the opposite.
Creating something could mean success. Success breeds more success. More success means more work. More work means less time to binge watch Parks and Rec while eating Phish Food.
Creating something could also mean failure. Failure means trying again or trying something else. Trying could mean success. Success breeds more success…you see where I’m going with this.
Creating something – success or failure – means a lot of work in your future.
Not creating, on the other hand, means neither success nor failure. Lack of success or failure means all of the time in the world to take more Buzzfeed quizzes, play more video games, make more excuses for ourselves, and envy our friends (who we assume are succeeding even if they are failing, simply because they’re doing something and we’re not).
I started this blog last May for several reasons, chief among them was envy, envy that other people seemed to be having more success – playing in premier improv shows, starting their own companies, creating beautiful art or smart blogs. I wanted to stop feeling that way. I wanted to start creating my own success. So I made a plan and I stuck to it.
I am not special. If I can do it, you definitely can.
Step 1: Give Yourself Permission To Create
In improv, we all know the fastest way to kill a scene is to say “No.” We learn from day one that we’re supposed to “Yes And” our scene partners – build on their ideas no matter how great or how silly.
What they don’t teach you in Level 1 is to “Yes And” your own ideas too. Don’t say “No, But” or create reasons why something can never be before you even try. When you have an idea, no matter how great or how silly, strike while the iron is hot. Just start making something. Who knows where it will lead.
Step 2: Hold Yourself Accountable
How many improv teams rise and fall in the course of year? I started 2014 as a member of 3 independent teams. Of those, only one still regularly performs.
When no one is held accountable, things fall apart. If you want to start writing a book, email your friend the next chapter every Friday morning. If you want to work out three times a week, leave your friend a voicemail every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoon when you finish. Even if those emails are never read or voicemails go un-listened to, simply creating the system will force you to make progress.
Step 3: Share Your Progress
Have you ever practiced for an improv twosie without a coach? I have. You end up calling lights 25 minutes later with no clue how good or bad the performance was or what can be done to improve it. Sharing your progress can help you get the feedback you need and provide inspiration to keep going.
When I don’t feel like writing this blog, I remember all the people who read each week, everyone that expects two articles a week. Those same people also inspired me to write down everything I know about improv into one, easy-to-follow guidebook – Improv ABC: The A-Z Guide to Becoming an Unstoppable Improviser.
If you want to lose weight, start sharing the healthy recipes you’re making on Facebook. If you want to build a website, post your progress and/or your code on the Internet each week. If you want to start a blog, sign up for tumblr or wordpress and start writing.
I loved Jimmy Carrane’s interview last month. In it, he said, “Create your own thing. Creation is the best medicine. It cures jealousy and bitterness. It gives you energy and can lead to opportunities you weren’t even aware of. The gatekeepers are in your head.”
So this year, don’t make a New Year’s Resolution. Make something happen. You “Yes And” people on stage all the damn time. In 2015, “Yes And” your ideas. “Yes And” yourself.
Header Photo Credit: Julia Madras
If you’re ready to up your improv game, I’ll teach you everything I know about in one easy-to-follow, fun, step-by-step guide to the art form.
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