For years on end, my ideal life stood there. I stood here. I watched from afar as events unfolded in mysterious ways, waiting for something magic to happen to bridge the gap. Nothing ever happened. Things don’t work this way.
My ideal self stood there, in the future. I stood here, in the present, living in the past. My hopes, my dreams, my vision — they all waited for me in some corner in the future at someday o’clock. The clock never ticked that time. It skipped the beat. Clocks measure — don’t bridge.
Some people say luck, or timing, or whatever you want to call it, plays a huge role in the game called life — and it does. The role isn’t always favorable — for some it rarely is.
I stood here. My vision stood there. We waved to each other from a distance, never walking across to meet.
If we want to get ahead in life, we have to train our personal integrity muscles. In the end, that’s all that matters. Our whole life depends on a binary system of self-trust, self-reliance, and self-worth each fueling the other into a never-ending cycle. If we trust ourselves enough, we make things happen. The things that we do, ignite the spark for the next batch of actions, and so forth. If we don’t trust ourselves — we do nothing.
Imagine your Personal Integrity as a bank account. We either make deposits or withdrawals. If we do nothing, then nothing happens.
I believed I could study and think my life into change. More knowledge was — and in some ways, it still is — my shield. It’s the way I often blanket my fears. When learning more stopped working, I challenged my fears in a non-confronting, safe way. I feared risk.
Risk-aversion is a downfall.
Unless we take small, calculated risks, and start doing what we must, nothing happens.
To launch ourselves forward we have to make deposits in our Personal Integrity account while reducing the number of withdrawals to almost zero so the savings pile up. That’s hard. It requires planning. It requires playing smaller, smarter, and for the long-haul, instead of going for the quick and big wins. Going for the big win rarely works — unless your Personal Integrity account is already stuffed. I see it all the time. I see it in myself, and I see it in my surroundings and clients. In some way, we’ve been fooled into thinking that success, fulfillment, and happiness require grandiose exhibitions of effort. We believe they require heroic feats. But they don’t. It’s the lie of overnight success. It doesn’t exist — it’s thin air.
The way to make deposits to our Personal Integrity account is to plant our feet firmly into our dreams and desires, and then set goals around that. Once the goals are set, we must reverse engineer our success to where we are today, breaking the goal down into microscopic chunks that don’t frighten us. Then, extract from those chunks daily actions that inch us towards the goals, and perform them over the long-haul.
It’s about making a promise to ourselves, and then keeping it no matter what.
In Aesop’s words, “Slow and steady wins the race”, where slow equals small steps forward, and steady implies consistency over a long period of time.
Figure out what you want to do. Set goals. Take care of yourself. Make promises. Act on those promises. Embrace patience and be consistent. Keep it up.