Ambition is great, it drives us to achieve our goals but it needs to be tempered with patience if we are to keep on track and avoid crashing. This has been a hard lesson for me and although looking back on my life I ended up in the right place, there were times when I caused myself unnecessary distress and almost sabotaged my chances of success as a result of my impatience.
A pattern that I recognise in my behaviour starts with a heartfelt wish or passion. I put everything that I have into achieving this goal. Early achievements indicate that I am on the right track and I have what it takes. This is all good. We are inspired by our dreams to find our life’s purpose. The little markers of success along the way, for example, praise from a line manager, achieving a weight loss goal, or winning a writing competition, are like flags waving us on. There is a moment of realisation as we start to believe that we can achieve our dream.
In the past, this has been the point at which I start to sabotage my chances of success. It is a critical stage where patience is essential if we are to keep on track.
Have you heard of the Terrible Twos? It is an expression used by parents to describe the developmental stage of two-year-old children who are prone to temper tantrums. At this age the child wants to be independent and can become frustrated when they discover that they do not have the motor and cognitive skills needed to achieve a task. The child might imagine themselves doing this activity and cannot understand why it is not possible.
This is me. In my mind’s eye, I am already capable. The passion to achieve deceives me into believing I am ready. When the world does not recognise this and give me what I want I throw my hands up in despair. Then comes the self-doubt. The resentment and feelings of not being good enough. What a waste of energy and unnecessary grief. I get there in the end but looking back on my past experience I can see now that there is an easier way.
It is hard to stay present when you are used to striving for success. The business world teaches us to inflate our achievements to show that we have reached or exceeded targets. I am incredibly tough on myself, setting unrealistic goals of what I expect to achieve on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. When I fall short, I berate myself for failing and work harder. The result is inevitable: Burn out. Poor decision making, and shoddy work as I am not taking my time.
When we let go of trying to control and trust the journey, we get there a lot faster. The passion that is currently driving me is to publish my books and reach a significant number of readers. In March 2020 when the UK first went into lockdown I had not published any books and I didn’t have a social media presence. In eight months, I have published my debut, The Borrowed Boy, and my second novel, Just Bea, is in the process of being formatted for publication. I started this blog and have posted weekly. I have over 1k followers on Twitter and host a weekly tweet chat Friday Salon. I have also filmed a pilot for a YouTube programme Castaway Books. It’s exhausting just reading this.
This week I had a reality check. There is no hurry. Everything will unfold in its own time. Writing this blog brings me great satisfaction as I am developing self-awareness and making valuable connections with readers. I love hosting the Friday Salon tweet chats as it feels as though I am meeting with writer friends in the pub. I am learning new skills. Last week I was amazed to find myself editing a film for YouTube.
When I relax into enjoying my work with no expectation it becomes a pleasure. I can savour each moment, immersing myself in the task without keeping one eye on the clock. I still have a diary with daily goals but they are more achievable. Every day, every hour I am learning and growing. Like the two-year-old, I do not yet know what I don’t know, but as I try things out and practice new skills I am discovering. It is a joy to learn, and the connections I am making with people on this journey are enriching my life.
In my blog on Learning to be patient, I spoke about the lessons from nature. That we have what we need to become the person we are meant to be but just as a plant develops through the seasons so do we. We cannot rush nature.
Be patient. Trust the journey. And have fun. You are exactly where you need to be right now. And above all be kind to yourself.