“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” ~ Lao Tzu
I had never finished anything in my life.
I wasn’t a college graduate, I was only dabbling in my yoga practice, and I had journals of sparked ideas that never went anywhere.
I even had boxes still sitting in my closet from when I moved a year previously that weren’t unpacked yet. These were scary thoughts as I was about to embark on motherhood. I was going to be a parent and my pregnancy would come to a close whether I was ready or not.
In that moment, after I unpacked the boxes, I wrote down the things I wanted to accomplish: all the lofty goals I set out before myself, both as a mother and as a human being in this lifetime.
I had a sense of urgency to finish every last one of them.
Looking back now, a decade later, I recognize I can’t get to all those goals. I now give myself permission to realize there is still time, but maybe they aren’t my goals any longer.
Some were dependent on other people and out of my control, my perspective shifted on others, or the things that seemed important before really weren’t a priority anymore. I don’t have the traditional American dream family, I’ve never been to India, run a marathon, or even read all the books on my bookshelf cover to cover.
But I have raised a compassionate child who loves sushi, the outdoors, and dance parties in our pajamas. I have created my own career path of self-employment which has enabled me to travel, meet people who inspire me every day, and laugh a lot because of the company I keep. As I look over the list of goals from what feels like a lifetime ago I come to a new realization.
I have accomplished a lot in a short time. After all, a decade is only a blink in this life.
I no longer see the failures to stick to my convictions, but rather the evolution of this list that has taken me much further. Rather than focusing on the destination to arrive at and checking everything off of my ‘To Be’ List, I am enjoying each step. I am looking back to realize the miles I’ve already walked and all the goals I have reached that were never even on that list.
I recognize the power I have to put myself wholeheartedly into my own life. Sink or swim, it is mine. And the coolest part is finding success along the way and turning the small wins into triumphs because, let’s face it, some days the road is a lot rockier than others.
Failures happen, plans don’t always work out, and sometimes we fall and don’t want to get back up.
When we look at the people in our lives who define success for us, we don’t see the struggle they had to overcome to get there. By shifting our focus to recognize what we’ve completed, we can truly see how far we’ve come by the things that never got checked off that list.
I share this revelation to encourage all of us to shift perspective.
Each of us has a list of what we’d like to accomplish, whether it is written down or in our head. Take inventory. Instead of seeing unfulfilled promises and what hasn’t been accomplished, look between the lines at the important things in life. And if something on your list is still important and you want to fulfill it, know that there is nothing standing in your way.
I’ve met a 79 year old college graduate, a single mother engaged in experiential learning with her children travelling the world and a man who once lived in his car and had no choice but to succeed in turning his passion into his million dollar business.
If a goal is no longer something that excites you, cross it off and recognize the other things you did instead.
Below is a quick “To Be” list of questions to help gain perspective, see accomplishments, and step into power:
I always wanted to finish:
I didn’t ever get to this:
But I did this instead:
These are some new goals I have:
This goal is still important for me to accomplish:
_____________________ because __________________________
For me to accomplish this important goal I will do these things, in this amount of time:
These goals are dependent on other people (marriage, a raise, etc.) and I won’t let them hinder my own value or recognition of success:
I can still achieve this goal (that was originally dependent on other people) if instead I shift my perspective to look like this (change what my idea of a family looks like, find a different path to earning more income, etc.):
If we inventory our “To Be” List on a regular basis, we can begin to shape our path one step at a time.
And suddenly, a thousand miles doesn’t seem so far.
Author: Sarah Russell
Editor: Khara-Jade Warren/ Renee Jahnke
Photo: Elade Manu/ Flickr