The subject's eyes fluttered open, the haze lifting, thoughts returning slowly back to normal... the trance had been so deep, luxurious and powerful... and now a strange feeling of emptiness replaced it. "M-Master?" was the first word from the subject's mouth. "Is... is that it?"
Well, is it?
If you're anything like me, you woke up this morning after twelve difficult days of creating at least one hypnosis themed work every day... and were oddly compelled to do more.
Perhaps you came up with a great new idea, maybe even around the same time that you'd been creating your offerings each day. Or perhaps you looked over your work or other people's, and thought of ways to improve it. Maybe you jotted down some thoughts, or mentally filed something away, deciding "I should do this". Maybe you even considered adding to something you'd made for the challenge, expanding it into a fully finished work. Perhaps you simply spent the time on DeviantArt, or got some other task done, just to acknowledge that niggling feeling in your head, of wanting to do something.
That, there, is the feeling of Mastery... and just like when you have become somebody's Master, it's difficult to give up once you're there, isn't it?
Savor that feeling. It is what will make you great. If you felt that need to come back here and do more, even a little bit, it means that you're beginning to form a positive habit: you're making a certain time, or a state of mind, your own... and getting daily into a productive 'zone'. It is without a doubt the mark of a true Master, and everybody who came out of the 12 Days of Hypnos Challenge a winner has some amount of it in their system now, even if it hasn't fully manifested yet. So, guess what? You've just gotten over the most difficult hurdle of the whole Mastery process. You've become a true élite. Congratulations!
Now, there are people in this community who are incontestably Masters. People who create incredible content, sometimes seemingly without much effort, and inspire us to be better... but what makes them so incredible? What got them to where they are? How can a normal person replicate their success?
Surely they have amazing talent, or worked incredibly hard, giving up everything else, for a long time?
Well, actually... you'd be surprised.
Time and again, research has shown that remarkable people, the most élite achievers, actually live surprisingly relaxed lives. Where the rest of the world is scrambling to deadlines, constantly feeling "too busy", and putting increasing pressure on themselves... the élite just calmly sit down and do a little bit each day, just like they always do. It doesn't even really feel that difficult to them, because what stresses other people out has already become (for them) an automatic habit.
It doesn't take a big gung-ho life-changing decision, it doesn't take special talent (in fact, talent barely makes a difference!), it doesn't take sacrificing your personal life, it doesn't take particular courge, or effort. For that matter, what you produce doesn't have to be perfect, or even very good, as long as you're improving! Becoming a Master simply takes a little bit of work each day, when you are feeling most focused, and then you can go about the rest of your day confident that over time, you will become one of the best in the world at what you do.
By taking part in our last challenge, regardless of how much "effort" you feel you put in or how accomplished you feel compared to other people, you have become a winner in more than one sense: you have kickstarted this habit for yourself. More than that, by tackling the many varied themes of the competition, and exposing yourself to the demands, feedback and criticism of myself and the dA community at large, you have engaged in a form of sustained Deliberate Practice for at least these first 12 days. This practically guarantees that if you took part in the challenge, your work has already improved in some small way!
It takes 66 days of consistency to form a positive habit, and it doesn't even matter if you miss a day here and there (such as Christmas), so long as you keep it going overall. You've already knocked over 12 days of consistent, creative work. You can take Christmas off... but what will you do after that?
If you decide to stop, then... I guess it's over? You're back to square one.
If you decide to keep on writing, drawing, or whatever it is you want to become a Master of... then you are already almost 20% of the way there. Was that so hard, really? Could you keep going, if you wanted to? Do you think you could put in another 54 days? By that point, continuing the process won't even take much of a conscious effort any more. You will have gone from an élite to a Master, and your work will get better and better every day. You won't ever need to feel like you'll never reach the highest tiers, ever again... because the people you admire will admire you right back, and you'll deserve it.
Now, I'm not saying this to pressure anybody... but I did want to point it out.
Maybe you do not care about improving, and you're happy with your work the way it is. More power to you.
But if you want to become the best, this is your chance. I've tricked you into starting on that journey, and so far sixteen of you have already become élite achievers, almost without realizing it! Every one of those sixteen has become better, and they all have a chance at being the best.
I've challenged you to be élites, and you've succeeded. And now, I challenge you...
... to keep it up.
Merry Christmas, everyone.
Bonus game: Santa's Sharp Seasonal Sight
On the 12 images added for each day (aka: Every image with the exception of the "hypnos jam jam" bonus picture) a single word is hidden: Hypnos (In Greek). Sometimes it's subtle, sometimes it's overt, but it is always there.
Somebody's won this. Good job!
And a poll: Which of my personal Flash Fiction entries is your favorite?
I'd love it if you took part in my Poll and told me which of my entries you personally enjoyed the most (plus, comment why!). It'll help me along on my own path to Mastery!