The Best New Year’s Resolution Nobody’s Making (But Everybody Should)

I still remember when and where I first heard the phrase. (Julia here).

I remember how my heart stopped, my jaw dropped, and my head tilted to one side.

In a word: bafflement.

All I could think was “what?” Then blank.

I knew he hadn’t just uttered the secret to all of life; yet his words struck me as so profound, I couldn’t immediately wrap my head around their meaning.

We had been dancing for over an hour by that point during a private dance lesson. He was trying to teach me a new move that required a lot of coordination and flowed contrary to the movement I had been practicing until then.

I couldn’t get it.
No, I lie. I did get it.
And that was part of the problem.

I could see the movement on his body when he made it.
I could see the difference with the movement I had been making.
And I could even understand the technique in theory.

But my body had still to catch up to my mind.
It simply refused to move that way without my brain having to command each and every individual muscle in a specific way.

“Let it come out naturally,” my dance teacher said.
I laughed nervously looking at my robotic movements in the mirror. All I could think was how uncomfortable it was to be dancing so spasmodically before a professional!

“Enjoy it,” he yelled over the music and joined me in the movement.
Laughing again, I protested:
“I can’t enjoy anything right now. I have to think about every little thing I’m doing.”

Suddenly he stops the music, looks at me in the eye and says in all seriousness:

“Make mistakes dancing.”

(Clunk clunk, awkward step on the floor, freeze)

“I’m trying to get the step right for now…”

“Make. Mistakes. Dancing.”

(Cold sweat, awkward laugh, swallow.) “What?”

“Dancing isn’t just about the steps. We’re here to learn technique, yes. But dancing isn’t just technique. We did the technique already.

“When the music comes on I want you to dance. I want you to feel it. I want you to enjoooy the movement.” As he spoke these last words, an inner impulse shook him from head to toe and back up again ending in a wide smile on his face.

It was contagious.
But even smiling I tried to protest.
“It’s just that I don’t know the movement yet.”

“You’re going to make mistakes.”

He paused looking at me and all I could do was nod.

Obviously. I was already making more mistakes than I liked.

That’s why we’re here,” he continued. “To make mistakes. And to correct them. But make mistakes dancing, girl. I’ll still correct your technique. But I don’t want to see just technique. Technique isn’t dancing. Anyone can learn technique. Dancing is about feeling. That’s the important part.

Feeling is the important part.

And ain’t that the truth?
Ain’t that the truth in all we do?
Whether it’s called dancing, writing, selling, instructing, designing, coaching, or what have you:

It’s never just about technique.

We need technique. And technique is what we learn. But it’s never about technique, is it?

Not when we perform it’s not.
When we perform our profession, our calling, our hobby, our anything, it’s all about the feeling we get and the feeling we give.

It’s all about the joy it brings us and the joy we bring to others.

Otherwise why do it?
If not for joy, why do anything?
If not for the pleasure of feeling alive and uniquely human, why even try?

Don’t just do things mechanically. But really do them.
Do them with all your being.
Feel them, with your whole heart and soul.

And make mistakes doing them.
Make mistakes doing them, not just thinking about or analyzing them.
Welcome your mistakes. Dance to the rhythm of your mistakes.

And that’s our New Year’s resolution for 2016:

Make mistakes dancing!

Whatever you attempt, whatever goals you set, and in all your endeavors for the new year and beyond, remember to make mistakes. Dancing.

Crank up that music, sing your own tune, and twirl with your errors.

Because as Gabriel García Márquez once wrote:

“No matter what, nobody can take away the dances you’ve already had.”

What mistakes shall you dance to in this wonderful new year that’s upon us?