I was thinking the other day about some things I’ve written over the last couple of years. Things that said, essentially, “I’m going to do something”. I started listing those things in my head, then started assessing whether I had met each goal, and whether I had met the goal within the spirit that was intended when I wrote about it.
What I’m finding is that I am completing most of the things I’m starting. Almost all of them. I’m completing them, and as a result I’m able to feel good that I did something I felt was important enough to write about in the first place. What’s disturbing is the feeling that I’m often not as successful as I think I could have been when I first started out on these goals. This kind of thing is really gnawing at me right now.
Did I run that 5K? Sure. Cross it off the list. In a quiet moment of reflection, however, I lament the fact that I didn’t really train to run it hard; I just trained to be able to finish it in the first place. Big difference. It leads to the feeling that I’m not doing things big enough, or with big enough success.
You might think it’s good that I completed the 5K in the first place. Not completing it is the alternative, and that’s definitely not good. And hey, we’re all busy, and blah blah blah. I so appreciate the sentiment, but there are times when hearing that sounds more like a reminder that I didn’t do well enough, rather than what it should sound like, which is support, which I so desperately need. I want to hold myself to a higher standard. And it’s not about trying to be as great as [fill in the blank]. I don’t generally compare myself to others, because I find I feel better if I celebrate what others accomplish instead of comparing my accomplishments against theirs. Plus, I know there’s a good chance I’ll feel like I don’t measure up anyway, and feeling like I’m not measuring up is enough to make me hesitate to try anything new. Insert recipe for inertia.
Yet I have to root myself in the knowledge that much of our success in life comes from trying, not necessarily succeeding, in every new venture. And I must admit to giving in to the feeling that if I write about it, I’d damn well better do it. More than once, that’s kept me from giving up on something entirely. Maybe you think that’s a poor way to go about achieving things. But I don’t feel this way about everything. And if the end result is positive, who cares?
As in all things, I think there has to be a balance.
I need to hold myself accountable. I need to give myself a break once in a while.
I need to keep trying new things. I need to not be disappointed if it doesn’t always go perfectly the first time.
I need to try for the best possible result every time. I need to be happy that there is a result of any kind, even if it doesn’t always meet my expectations, which are generally pretty lofty anyway.
Side Note: I need to learn from every experience, and be open to learning from everyone else’s experiences.
What I most want to remember is:
1. Celebrate the success of others
2. Look for opportunities to make a positive difference, even if the difference only affects one person
3. Take advantage of those opportunities and actually make a positive difference
4. Never stop learning
5. Never stop trying
I might also add: Keep some perspective. In reality, it’s been a good year so far, and the future looks brighter all the time. I could have done more, or done what I’ve already done better perhaps, but it’s only okay to feel that way if I stop short of regret, self-pity, and future inaction. I’m not perfect. I will keep trying to be helpful, in as big a way as I can muster.