I know, I know, I’m late for the party.
I’ve set some goals for myself and it didn’t kick off right away. Everyone has already left the starting line, and I’m still stretching my legs behind the broken ribbon. But that’s okay, because what matters is that I’m still on the race.
The novelty of the new calendar has worn off, and I no longer make the mistake of writing 8 instead of 9. For some people, that may be the only thing that changed, and business goes as usual. But for a few daring minds who are setting out on a new journey, this could be one the most gut-wrenching moments of their lives, and it certainly is for me.
Now, where do I begin? Well, ‘start with what you know’ seems like a good mantra. That way, I don’t feel like I’m starting with nothing. So instead of sharing my goals, I’ll be sharing with you three of the best lessons I’ve learned so far. Lessons that are going to shape my year of Mastery.
Focus on the marathon, not the destination
There is something about a shiny prize at the end of a task that just makes it so enticing to do, and that may be easy to achieve in smaller tasks. But when we start to look for bigger prizes at the end of even bigger challenges, that huge distance can feel like an eternity to tackle.
But what makes a destination worth getting to, is not the place itself. You can join a marathon, secretly drive to the finish line ahead of everyone else and not feel like you’ve actually won. Because what makes the destination worth going to, is the amount of work you put in to get there.
Enjoying the process rather than obsessing over the result is what keeps people staying on the race and wanting to do more of it in the future, even after completing a particular milestone. So only use the goal as a means to determine your route. Focus on the road, and don’t forget to take in the view.
Enjoy your failures
There will be difficult times when you definitely want to quit. They will no longer feel like a hypothetical, and there will be actual moments of quitting. Sometimes, you will fail so hard that your entire sense of identity will crumble before you, and the only place you will ever feel safe is in a dark bedroom, buried underneath your bed. Do it. Let go. It’s okay.
People will tell you to keep going, even when you know you have nothing more to give. But holding on to a sinking ship is not going to keep it afloat, it will only drag you deeper into the abyss. There is a time to fight, and there is a time to give up, and there is wisdom in knowing how to choose your battles.
Not everyone succeeds, we all know that, which makes failing very common. So if you associate failure with painful emotions like shame, guilt and regret, you’re gonna feel like shit most of the time.
But if you learn to accept your mistakes, treat them with kindness, and love every single one of them, they will start to feel like a dear friend. And someday, you won’t have to hide in a dark bedroom anymore when your life comes crashing down.
It is my journey.
It doesn’t belong to the readers of this blog. It doesn’t belong to any of my competitors who would like to see me fail. It doesn’t even belong to my family and friends who believe in me, even though I share most of my journey with them. It is mine, and mine alone.
I may look as if I had nothing but I was sure of myself, sure of everything, sure of my life, sure of my impending death. Yes, that was all I had. But at least I had a hold on that truth as much as it had a hold on me.
—Albert Camus, The Outsider (Modern Classics Edition of The Stranger)
I used to think that I owned my life because it is very easy for a person to feel like they do. But after spending years of studying, working and halfway succeeding in my former job as a hotelier, I didn’t feel any better about myself in the long run.
Of course, there were a few months of stability and even fewer bursts of triumph. But as a whole, and certainly in the latter years of my career, every second felt like agony. And that’s when I knew that my dream of being a top management executive was not my dream.
Just because you are succeeding in what you are doing does not automatically mean that you are owning your life, not if your intentions are mere reflections of other people’s expectations.
So brush off the pressure of pleasing anyone. Think about what it is you really want to do and start doing it as often as you can, with the end goal of doing it every day. Don’t worry about being late, don’t apologise, and don’t wait for the stars to align before you start something new.
It’s your journey, seriously — do whatever you want. That includes taking your time and being late at something every now and then.
Photo by J.M. Glodoviza – Adelaide, Australia (August 2017)