If your New Years resolutions are already in danger, enjoy some tips from Leslie on how to make them real. – InPower Editors

My work as a coach is to help people increase their capacity in an area that really matters to them. For some, it’s the capacity to connect more fully with others. Or to follow through. To inspire others. To take a stand. To stand down. To…

As far as I can tell, there’s no capacity-building without practice: the regular repetition of new moves. Most people would agree on that. So if we know that practice is such a key to growth, why do we often struggle to maintain even the simplest of practices? Why do we wriggle out from under the very effort that will help us fulfill our most ardent intentions?

If we want to grow, our challenge is to become more consistent in practice… and to do so without sicking our “inner terrorist” on ourselves. I’ve found four places to focus when my practices falter: function, form, feeling and ‘futz.’

Focus on function
Let’s face it; practice can be kind of a drag. It’s often not all that interesting; sometimes it’s downright uncomfortable. And it’s often hard to see an immediate pay-off. To make matters worse, many of us relate to practice as an external ‘should,’ an assignment from some cosmic schoolmarm. Few of us relate to practice as what it actually is: the engine of our own fulfillment, created on our behalf toward the accomplishment of our own deep desire.

Let me offer myself up as an example. I tend to resist meditating, despite the overwhelming proof of its all-around-awesomeness. As a practice, meditation is conceptually compelling to me, but less so on a practical level. So I falter. One way to help sustain a practice is to ensure that it serves a function that is real and meaningful to you. If it does, keep reconnecting to its underlying purpose. That will help fan the flames of commitment. But if you’re doing a practice without a clear intent, rethink it. However virtuous a practice may be, it won’t be a ‘good’ one for you if it doesn’t link to something that really matters.

Focus on form
Getting clear on the function of a practice is the basis for discerning its appropriate form. Continuing the meditation example… I don’t aspire to enlightenment. I don’t lust after mind-blowing altered states or blinding insights. My greatest aspiration is that I might bring a friend, a client or a Food Lion check-out clerk some warmth and safe harbor in her day. If sitting on a cushion doesn’t help me do that, maybe it’s not the right form of practice for that goal. Maybe a more potent exercise for me would be something to do ‘out in the world,’ like noticing when I’m impatient and breathing into my heart. Form must follow function.

Focus on feeling
There is something existentially big about carrying out a practice, even if it’s a really small one. The mere doing of it is a powerful turning toward oneself. It is a gesture of remembering and respect that communicates to your own being, “You matter. I will show up for you.” So even if ‘breathing into my heart’ feels rote and superficial today, I am bolstered by the mere fact of having kept my self-promise. It’s often the satisfaction of not abandoning myself that propels me into practice.

Focus on the ‘futz’
If a practice is effective, it’s going to mess with your head. It’s going to futz with the status quo. It might make you sacrifice something you usually put at the top of your priority list. It might cause you to feel incompetent or uncomfortable. Know that. Know that your practice will put your treasured equilibrium at risk. Then you can anticipate that and investigate it, kindly, when it happens. That will give you a real and awakened choice, vs. unconsciously collapsing in the face of discomfort.

What about you?

What practices do you engage in consistently?

  • What makes your consistent engagement possible?
  • In what ways are those practices well formulated to achieve a clear purpose that you care about?
  • What does it feel like to engage in the practice? To what degree do those feelings sustain you in practice?

Is there any practice that you regularly wriggle out of?

  • Does it clearly support a strong and true aspiration? Is there a clear and compelling function that that practice supports?
  • Is there a way in which the form of the practice could be changed, so that it more directly supports your aspiration?
  • Whether or not you enjoy the practice itself, can you connect to a positive feeling you get when you actually do it? Can you leverage that feeling to sustain you in practice?
  • What is getting futzed with when you do these practices? What internal value, belief or habit does the practice threaten?

Originally on: LinkedIn

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