So, maybe you’re pretty awesome. You probably are. But maybe you’re not quite as awesome as you would like to be. Sometimes it gets so hard to focus on the things we do well, or the times we succeeded. Our brains seem hard-wired to flash back to our traumas, our failures, or the times where our short-comings embarrassed us. A healthy dose of self-analysis is productive, and is a necessary component in the process of growth and development. But it becomes a problem when we let the realization of all of the ways we are imperfect seep beyond cognition and into our nervous system, paralyzing us with the overwhelming task of deciding which imperfection to work on first. This, in my opinion, is where we face the risk of becoming stagnant in our lives, both personally and professionally.
I’m not perfect, and you know what? I hate that about myself. (You probably thought I was going to say “I’m ok with that!” didn’t you?) I drive myself insane sometimes with all of the things I want to do in life, and then get frustrated with the realization that there could never be enough time in the day to be as good as I would like at all of them.
Looking online these days, it seems like everyone is trying so hard to position themselves as an expert on something. For the actual experts out there, congratulations on your success and thank you for sharing what you have learned. For the rest of us, when did it become so taboo to admit that we haven’t mastered everything yet? How about the value in all the things we’ve tried? Every article I read points out something else that I could be doing better or doing more. I mean, I’m always on the quest for self-improvement, but how do I decide what to do first here? Should I build a robot and train it how to use InDesign to prove I’m tech savvy? Or should I first write a Grammy award-winning song that gains international attention due to my highly successful grass-roots social marketing campaign?
I am not Mother Theresa. I am not Richard Branson. Neither are you. (Well, unless of course you are Richard Branson, in which case…well done on, er…everything). The challenge is to not get stuck staring at the void of space that lies between where you are now, and where you ideally want to be. If you are anything like me, the second you come close to achieving a goal, you make your goal higher and harder to reach. In this way, my standards for success are technically never attainable.
But I believe in life as a constant process. I can’t possibly do everything I would want to in a given day, so I have to focus on smaller steps. I can’t save the world right now, but I can add value to it. Being alive is passive. Living is active. Every time you listen to an upset friend even though you’re dealing with your own problems, you add value. Every time you slow down to help a co-worker who is struggling on a project even though it’s not your responsibility, you add value. So keep your lofty goals and remember that every day that you take one piece of yourself and you twist it, push it, try it on in a new way, look at it from a different perspective, grow it–no matter what other “failures” you may have had–you can pat yourself on the back, because for that day, you lived.