All or Nothing

I’ve come to realize that I have a bit of a contrasting attitude lately. I’ve got so many goals and good intentions but I also seem to be teetering on the fence of mediocrity and whenever I sway in the opposite direction of my aspirations, I’m left feeling depressed and apathetic.

I recognized this pattern of mine while watching an old episode of Hoarders the other day. If you haven’t seen this show, a psychologist-like person and a camera crew go to the home of a person who has filled it with lots of junk, garbage, and in one case rotting food and they try to help them clean it up and break their bad habits. One man had dreams of writing a novel and finding revelation in nature but barely had a walkable path to his front door. He explained to his coach that he was actually a perfectionist but if things couldn’t be the way he wanted them to be, he figured “why bother” with anything.

I sympathized with this man and realized that I too can sometimes feel that way. Perhaps not to his extreme but if things aren’t the way I want them to be right away, I can leer towards the side of “forget about it” all together. It’s not that I’m lazy, it’s more like my longing for an end result becomes greatly out-weighed by the stress of obtaining it. In other words, I become scared and overwhelmed. I’m not proud of this quality, but I’m not ashamed of it either. I wish only to use recognizing it as an opportunity for change.

I think this tends to be a common pattern among humans, actually.  We want to attain a goal, but slow progression, failures or fears keep us for maintaining our drive. It’s like this blog. I’d love to write everyday. I’d love to share with you the most eloquently written stories about everything interesting. But sometimes I don’t have anything interesting to say or my writing style falls short, and all you hear is crickets. If I could just forget about trying to be the best and make the effort to write everyday, I’m sure my style would improve and something would end up being interesting to someone. What would be most appropriate is a happy medium. Frequent, some-what interesting stories, written in less than perfect prose, but with an earnest effort. Shouldn’t that suffice?

I’d like to blame the false world of perfection that is flashed in front of us all day long. I’d like to say that “they” are the reason that when I find myself not measuring up I’m lead farther away from my goals. In reality, I’m my own worst enemy. I want so many things from life, but I get in my own way all the time. So what happens if I continue this way? If I can’t have it all, will I too eventually settle for nothing?

These feelings remind me of a previous post: Appreciating the Process. There is an end result I wish to obtain, but I have to remember that the journey it takes to get there is just as important and sometimes much more valuable.

Imagine you are trying to learn to knit and you want to make a sweater. You struggle with your technique and grow tired of making pot-holders. You want a sweater but you just can’t do it so you quickly give up. One day you wake up and there among your tossed away needles is a beautiful cashmere sweater. It’s warm and it’s elegant and it’s just what you wanted. Everything except, you didn’t actually make it. You could have bought this sweater at the store, but what you really wanted was to knit one yourself. So even though you got what you wanted, you really didn’t. You lost the satisfaction of doing it yourself, the know-how to do it again, and all the little tricks you would have learned along the way.

The bottom line is that struggling is part of the experience when reaching for our goals. It’s part of success. Those that attain what they seek out are the ones that accept the process of getting there, deal with their short-comings, and strive to do better.

So I’ve identified another problem with my personality and am aware of how to change it.  Now what? I guess I just keep trying my best. Everyday is an opportunity for growth. The truth is that beyond all my hopes and dreams is the simple desire to be happy and at peace with myself and my surroundings. So maybe I need to accept mediocrity too, maybe even enjoy it just a little bit. That’s not to say I won’t continue to strive for better. I’ll just try harder to appreciate each stage of my accomplishments, because in the end I certainly can’t have it all, but I definitely won’t have nothing.

Happy July 4th Weekend everyone!!! Let’s hear it for having the freedom to attain our goals!

2 thoughts on “All or Nothing

  1. Relax. You have more chances to get things done by not worrying about the outcome.
    It might help if instead of concentrating on the end result you focus on the journey getting there – by living the moment.

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