It's less than two weeks away from the end of the year of the horse. This year has held many ups and downs for me but overall it's impossible to see it as anything other than a resounding success. When I look back at my old blog posts I can follow the progression that I've made and it wasn't a straight line up. For the most part it consisted of two steps forward followed by a step back. These are some of the main things I've learned this past year:
1) Don't Compare Myself with Others - I listed this first because it's the most important to me and also the most difficult for me. My journey is my own and comparing myself to the person beside me serves no constructive purpose. My aim is only to be better each day than I was the day previous. When I really started to focus on doing this, I was able to get out of my own way and I started making real progress.
2) I Can Change - For years I'd always tried to make positive changes in my life and I would, for a little while, but then I'd revert back to my old habits. When you repeatedly let yourself down it becomes a cycle of self-defeat. You put less and less energy into trying to change because deep down you "know" you're going to fail. This year has taught me to take a small positive change and focus on that success to build on.
3) Winners Keep Score - I have no idea what I did from February to June. I know I did pushups and situps and form reps and even some acts of kindness; but I can't prove it and I can't add those reps onto my total for the year? Why not? I didn't record them. Initially, I told myself that it didn't matter because I was still completing reps. It took me a few months to admit to myself that what I was doing wasn't working and I realized that I had nothing to show for my effort. I noticed that Sifu Playter always had his notebook in the kwoon and was constantly recording his numbers in it. I decided to forgo spreadsheets and iPhone apps and kick it old school with a small notebook and pen of my own. Once I did this I never looked back.
4) Being Kind Takes A Lot of Effort - This is the area that I experienced the most ups and downs. I would have a week where I would be really aware of opportunities to be kind and as a result, I would get in a lot of acts of kindness. Then I would follow that up with a week where I was grumpy or upset and I wouldn't look for those opportunities and I would end up with very few kindnesses. I learned that, like anything else, being kind and showing empathy toward others is a learned skill. It takes mindfulness and repetition to become automatic. I have good day and bad days but overall, I'm much better than I was a year ago at taking advantage of opportunities to be kind to others.
Now that my first year of the I Ho Chuan is almost behind me, I need to focus on improving again this year. In many ways, I feel like the first year will be the easiest. My virtue of never having done this before, there was huge room to make improvement. It will be that much more difficult for me to make the same amount of progress this year. That being said, I have the advantage of knowing what to expect and I also have a lot of skills that I've developed that I only need to continue to hone as opposed to developing them from scratch. That should help me to have another amazing year.