I set a deadline for myself. That deadline expires at the end of this month. It was to have a book completed by this time, but it did not anticipate much disruption that has taken place in between. Some of it beautiful, some of it not. Nonetheless, I set the deadline, and I’m missing the deadline. For many, that would be a futile exercise. For me, it was a self-imposed nudge in the right direction.
While my book is not written, and may never be at this rate, it did give me a lot to focus on. It forced me to consider issues and aspects that I otherwise didn’t see a need to contemplate. It was a big, hairy and audacious goal to begin with (to quote someone that will remain anonymous for purposes of this post), but I set it anyway. Not because I had no intention of achieving it, or at least trying, but because I have the conviction to achieve it some day. The fact that that day has not arrived as planned is not what is important. What is important is that I live with a conviction to achieve more than I think I can. More than most expect me to. And most importantly, more than can be reasonably expected of me.
This, I find, is much healthier and rewarding than self-imposed misery, self-imposed limitations, and self-imposed failures. Corny clichés flit through my mind right now about setting targets and goals, but I’ll spare you the pain of reading that.
What I do believe is important to share is the fact that not achieving your goals for good reason is not something to be ashamed of. Those that might use it as a reason to mock or ridicule you do you a favour by exposing their fickleness and insincerity, which is in fact a blessing because you know exactly who should be kept close, and who should be discarded.
Most people don’t believe in themselves. They also react aggressively towards those that provoke their fears and expose their self-imposed limitations. So if you’re waiting for someone else to believe in you before you take that big step, or set out on that long journey that only you can take, you’re wasting your life away for people that are inconsequential in their own lives, let alone yours.
Anything self-imposed should be a source of grounding, a source of inspiration, or at the least, a source of reflection. It should never be an end state. It should always be a prompt to begin anew.
Imagine if we all imposed excellence or at least a sincere yearning for excellence on ourselves? The world would be a very different place, governments would not have so much power to abuse the rights of those they are supposed to serve, and corporates would not yield the control they have over the lives of so many. If we desire excellence for ourselves, we’ll tolerate nothing less from others. The moment we do, we sow the seeds of insincerity because then it’s not excellence that we desire, but instead, it is a sense of superiority that we seek.
Our convictions are reflected in what we impose on ourselves, and what we demand from others. Insecurity in who we are defines how we express this conviction. Those that are distracted and unaware of their own convictions will easily misinterpret our insecurities as expressions of our unique characters. Meanwhile, those of us that have little reason to believe that we’re capable of more than the assumptions that others hold of us will readily succumb to the definition that society imposes on us.
[There’s a point in there somewhere, but I don’t feel like seeking it out right now.]