Watching the Olympics this week has provided me inspiration to write again but don’t worry, this isn’t another armchair analysis of what Canada should or not feel, be doing or not, for and about our national athletes. Others are better or maybe just more prolific at that! What captures my interest is the whole question of whether winning bronze, struggling to stay in the middle of the field, coming in dead last or crashing, being struck by illness or injury, are worthwhile endeavors when you can’t, won’t or shouldn’t take the gold medal.
Enough of the sports analogy……….now I’m talking about life on your own individual level. Lately I’m noticing a theme in conversations with clients, friends and family around goals that aren’t being met. In relationships, it may be goals for your partner, something they really ought to become that bears little resemblance to who they really are right now. Individually, it may be around definitions of yourself that you keep struggling to accomplish, a story of your life that you wish to tell, but have yet to realize. From some folks, I’m hearing of holding back from embracing the reality of today, holding out for the day that perceived obstacles disappear. From others, it’s more about not wanting to look foolish by trying for something they fear they might not accomplish or believing that certain aspirations are only for those brighter, wealthier, thinner, taller, luckier, braver, more accomplished or experienced, more connected, abler………….. I could go on, but I think you get the picture. Are any of those limitations familiar?
The other day, I was having a conversation with a friend about a trip I was in the midst of planning, and found myself getting stuck around a part of the itinerary because I was caught up in what I should do as opposed to what I wanted to do. My very wise friend asked why I should, and very kindly refrained from laughing as I got very perplexed trying to justify some very odd and faulty reasoning. This wasn’t a huge life decision, but I know such reasoning affects me sometimes in both the minutiae of daily life and really significant choices. Here is my biggest limitation……….. trying to manage others’ perceptions of me. Fortunately, I have a few people in my life who I trust to hear my quandaries with patience and wisdom, and help me challenge that limitation. Perhaps you have some people like that in your life.
So my question for you today is whether you refrain from really living in the life you have now, or reaching for something more, because of limitations you perceive, some mythical panel of judges who will reduce you to tears by their criticisms or fail you by their bias or cast you out of the ring for daring to show up without some exhaustive list of pre-requisites? If so, try asking these questions:
- What’s the worst that can happen? (and how long will that last?)
- Who says?
- How do you know that?
- If you try and fail, is there a great story in that?
- As opposed to what you may believe about yourself, what do you want to believe about yourself?
- What else were you going to do with your time, money, effort, heart?
- When will you be ready, the conditions just perfect and success guaranteed?
So whether you go for the gold, strive for bronze or really just want a participation medal for living engaged in your own life, what most likely stands in your way is the perception of limitations. It truly is within your grasp to challenge those limitations, work around them and find a way to pursue your own unique aspirations.