When I started my unlikely–somewhat ironic–career as a professional speaker with a speech impediment, one of my primary goals was making millions of dollars, FAST. Looking back on this time, my primary motivation wasn’t joy, but a desire to:
PROVE I could do it!
PROVE I could be a highly successful adult!
PROVE that I was MORE than JUST some disabled guy who talked funny and walked funny.
PROVE! PROVE! PROVE!
Have you ever been determined to do something to PROVE your worth whether or not it brought you joy?
Now a decade later
I’m still millions of dollars shy
of my goal
of making millions of dollars
But, and this is a huge BUT that should be in 129 point font,
NOW I know
THE JOY OF PRACTICING
being a professional speaker, writer and perseverance coach.
As I reread this, “THE JOY OF PRACTICING” sounds like the consolation prize of a fifty dollar model Porsche kit that you still have to assemble, when what you were hoping to win is an actual Porsche 911.
But I’ve discovered that the joy of practicing is the real deal.
Whether it’s my yoga practice, meditation practice, writing practice or speaking practice, finding joy in each of my practices has been absolutely essential to my willingness to keep practicing.
As kids, we might not have had as much freedom to choose what we practiced but as adults, we do.
I used to believe that I would only succeed in life if I devoted vast amounts of time to practicing things that didn’t bring me joy, but in fact made me pretty darn miserable.
This belief proved to be thoroughly self-defeating.
Through experience, I’ve discovered that if I don’t find at least a little joy in practicing something, my willingness to continue practicing it quickly diminishes. And if I don’t practice something, my skill level in doing that thing also diminishes.
Case in point- Consistent weightlifting is a powerful practice which offers huge benefits to countless people. Yet for whatever reason, I don’t enjoy lifting weights. Hence, I haven’t lifted weights since high school.
While, ideally, I’d only practice those things that bring me joy, there are some practices that I believe are valuable for me even if they don’t at first naturally bring me joy. When this happens I ask myself, “How can I modify this practice in some way to make it more joyful for me?”
A good example of this is, for years I knew in my gut that my life would improve significantly if I meditated on a consistent basis. However, I just didn’t enjoy sitting meditation. Instead, I found it painful and tedious.
BUT, I discovered that I love meditating while lying down. So now almost every morning, I meditate when I first wake up, before getting out of bed for the day.
Realizing that practice doesn’t have to be boring, tedious or frustrating, but instead can be infused with joy is deeply liberating.
The joy of practicing hasn’t made me millions of dollars yet, but it has inspired me to consistently do my Imperfect Best.
What better hope do we have of creating our goals and dreams than by putting consistent joyful effort towards creating them?
A few questions for you to contemplate:
What are you currently practicing that brings you joy?
What are you currently practicing that you find boring, tedious and frustrating?
Of those boring, tedious and frustrating practices, are any truly valuable or beneficial enough to you to continue practicing them?
Of those, can you think of any new ways of approaching them that might make them more enJOYable?
JASON FREEMAN is a Professional Speaker and the proud owner of a Speech Impediment. He is also the author of “Awkwardly Awesome: Embracing My Imperfect Best” and a Perseverance Coach.
He excites and encourages his audience to break through the barriers of their own limitations using a method he created, called “doing your Imperfect Best ™”.
His Imperfect TEDx Talk can be viewed here.