I had an interesting discussion over the weekend. It was about forming a framework to determine where you are on your path to success. After a few suggestions on how to view this, I came up with my take. I think analogy’s are often helpful here… At some point I’ll fill you in on my limo driver and river analogies, which Brandon and I came up with. However, I usually feel that analogies fall short at some point. Simply because with any analogy, there may be mixed feelings about the process you are making reference to.
To make up an arbitrary example… If you view your relationship is like a flower, you may say that it has to be experienced with multiple senses, that it needs tending to, in order to grow, or perhaps that every flower (relationship) is different. However, at the same time, you could dig deeper (in a negative sense)and say that eventually the flower will wilt, in which case your best option is to dry it. But even then, it becomes unchanging, loses some color and smell, etc.
So, obviously, with any analogy, its sometimes best to have multiple analogies, and to use the parts of each analogy that you like, and then just leave the rest.
But to get back to my discussion.
My take was that no matter what way you frame it, there are three things which are important when measuring yourself.
- Where you think you are.
- Where you think you should be now.
- Where you want to be.
Now there are some subtleties in this that are important. Notable is that I didn’t put down “Where you actually are”… in some reference to absolute truth. I think most people would admit that where they view themselves on any path, is probably different than what they think is actually true.
“I don’t think I’m very good at skiing, but I’m probably not that bad.”
This seems like a strange statement, since you’re admiting that your opinion on yourself, is probably wrong, but you hold on to it anyhow. But I believe this happens all the time. We don’t always believe we can change how we think about ourselves.
In my opinion… the three items listed are all that really exists. There isn’t an absolute truth, only your perception of it. Other peoples perceptions may differ from your own, and you can use them to adopt a new view… but neither is absolutely true. Our whole experience of life is based on our perceptions, biases, and preconceived notions. (in a positive and negative sense).
So I believe it only matters where we think we are. Now, if there is a big discrepancy between where we think we are (#1), and where we think we should be(#2)… then its a setup for misery. All this is in your head anyhow, so why not set the bar low? As long as you keep your sights high (#3)… does it really help for you to be down on yourself? I think we’re better off just trying to get rid of #2 as much as possible, while keeping #1 as positive as possible. After all, does it really matter where you think you should be? Not really, only your interpretation of where you are, and where you want to go.
This is not about being delusional. There’s a fine balance between tricking yourself into thinking you’re doing well, when you’re not, but at the same time allowing yourself the luxury of a pat on the back.
Some may say, that the sense they are behind motivates them to keep moving forward. This doesn’t ring true for me, because I think that even if you’re motivated, and you eventually achieve your #3, you’ll never really be happy with your success if your #2 is constantly ahead of #1.
Keeping your “should be’s” in check is a mentality,… and not something that changes as soon as you reach your goals. There will always be some imperfection to focus on, that will still allow you to be hard on yourself. After all, whats more important: to enjoy your life day to day, or to eventually achieve what you now percieve to be success?
As with all my theories,… this one is going to need some modification. I especially want to clarify the line between being delusional, and allowing yourself to think of yourself as successful.
I think sometimes it’s just nice to hear someone else say they think you’re doing a great job.
“Love is the answer,
At least for most of the questions in my heart.
Why are we here, and where do we go, and how come it’s so hard?”
-Jack Johnson in his song “Better Together”