A few weeks ago, when my kids and their friends were playing basketball in our driveway, we heard a crash. Looking through the side door I saw three boys glaring at the basketball goal which was now laying in the grass, and the pole that supported it snapped cleanly across. They had done what my husband warned them they would do: break it through misuse. That's a lesson for another time.
What struck me about this was what happened next: they quit practicing! Their belief was that without a target, they couldn’t play. There was nothing to shoot the ball at so they quit shooting the ball at all.
I’m thinking: Of course you can! There are plenty of ways to practice good technique. Shoot the ball into the air with proper shoulder and wrist movement. Practice catch and release with a friend. Establish some muscle memory through repetition.
You don’t need a target to practice. You don’t need to keep score to improve. Sure – having the goal is an easy way to check that your form and alignment are working. Yes, it’s fun when you’re scoring and competing. But not having the goal doesn’t have to keep you from practicing, improving, and enjoying the sport.
This is true in lots of things, like eating habits, work, our hobbies. Lose 30 pounds. Achieve 10% profit margin. Finish the marathon in under 4 hours. If we take away those targets, we can still practice good form. Eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full. Evaluate where we are spending money without getting much for it. Run, but take the watch off that calculates my pace and heart rate. Enjoy it.
This is why the monthly doodling sessions work, why they've been a boost for the people who attend. The target isn't there. There are no expectations of outcome or grade. We practice presence and creativity without turning anything in. It’s freeing and it's fun. And from what the participants tell me, it also helps them when they get back to their targets, because they're more grounded, focused, and present.
Where can you take a goal down in your life or work? Where can you have a bit of fun practicing without the pressure of “making it?”