There are some very important things I want out of my life and I’ve been asking myself the question lately: “What am I waiting for?”
It’s hard to put a clear finger on it. I want to make sure I’ve got a good foothold on the next move before I let go of the ledge. But the deeper I dig, I’m beginning to wonder if I’m just rationalizing my fear to reach out and grab my dream life.
The Danger of Distant Goals
There is a “planner” deep within my soul. It makes me good at visioning way into the future and charting a path. However, it also makes me good at putting off what could be done today.
I’m also a first-class perfectionist. Since my early days creating music, I’ve had a knack for holding myself to a higher standard than I could ever execute, and then patting myself on the back for not settling for mediocrity (when I should have been kicking myself in the butt for not delivering anything).
The planner and the perfectionist are what give me a tendency to create distant goals.
But before you think I intend to throw the visionary in me out the window, there’s a place for distant goals. If you decide to become a doctor, then you’d better set some vision before charging ahead for 10 or 12 years of schooling.
The danger of distant goals comes when there are unknown gaps in the middle. If you want to be a doctor, then you’ve probably got a pretty clear idea of the road that lies ahead. It’s just a matter of focus and determination to execute the plan.
But when you want something and you’re not absolutely sure how to get there, you’re like your eight-year old self, with a blindfold on, dizzy from being spun around 10 times, swinging into empty space trying to hit a paper donkey full of Sweet Tarts. (Maybe you were more coordinated than I was at eight, but I could never nail that stupid donkey right out of the gate.)
After the first swing, you start to get your bearings. You listen for the SWOOSH of the swinging, sweet-filled ass. You reorient. You swing again. You miss again. Eventually, you’ll get a hit, but it all starts with that first swing.
At eight, we understand this well. We don’t waste a minute taking that first swing, sometimes to the dismay of the brave elder willing that sneaky beast who must dodge our impatient swings.
With age, the pendulum often swings the other way. We outgrow impulse and recklessness, and adopt caution and restraint. We learn to wait until the time is right. After all, “Timing is everything.”
Like most things, there is perhaps some truth on all sides.
Take the First Big Steps
I won’t throw caution to the winds, but I am going to awaken the eight-year old in me. I am going to get quicker at taking first swings. To get started, I did three things:
- I selected two very important things I want out of my life. One was optimistically a five or ten year goal, the other, a one or two year goal. It could have been one thing, or it could have been a bunch of things, but these two things are the top of my list for getting me to my dream life. (I promise to share these goals with you when I get there.)
- I thought very clearly about the first big steps. I know the first steps are big enough because it gives me butterflies to think about taking them. These steps are like those first, blind swings. My heart will be racing, and once I take them, I’m committed.
- I set very aggressive and uncomfortable deadlines to take the big steps. There is no way I can do everything right and make the deadlines, so I will be forced to accept my best. And they are so close that I can’t put off action. From this moment on, I will live and breath these goals until they are behind me.
I remind myself often that life is too short to let slip away, but it still manages to sneak off from time to time. When I look up and find life slipping away, the best remedy is good, hard yank to pull it back.
When I look up and find life slipping away, the best remedy is good, hard yank to pull it back.”
What has helped you get moving when you feel stuck?