I was having a conversation with a friend recently and within the context of sharing the core of what Aligned Activation is with her, I called myself a “goal pro.”
Taking pride in the things I’ve checked off my list of desired achievements is fuel when I find myself challenged when things don’t seem to go my way in working toward or reaching a goal.
Because 9 times out of 10, my first attempt at a goal was not when I actually achieved it.
(I may be a “pro” but I’m also a pro at trusting the divine timing of things and that means trusting there is a reason they don’t always go in my favor.)
When I think about current goals and things I’ve dreamt of doing for a long time – and how far off they feel or how little progress I feel I’ve made toward them – it can be discouraging. And, for transparency’s sake, I’m currently in that state with a few aspirations.
A couple of relevant examples would be how many attempts to quit drinking I made before it stuck. I honestly lost count. But in less than two months, I’ll be celebrating five years of sobriety.
Or, my dream of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. When I got bit by the bug to run Boston, I really only had the intention to run two marathons: the marathon that I would run to qualify for Boston and then the actual Boston marathon.
Guess what? I didn’t qualify on my first attempt. Nor my second or third. If my memory serves me correctly, it was my fourth attempt, nine months after my first try.
I’ve been giving a lot of careful consideration to something that has, for about 19 years, albeit in a cyclical fashion, been a dream. I’ve started, and stopped, for various reasons a handful of times and have questioned whether or not it’s something I really want to pursue given that after an attempt, I tend to think that maybe it’s not in my highest excitement after all or that I’m not cut out for it.
Plus, I’ve looked at each attempt as a “fail” because I didn’t really get what I’d hoped out of the experience and then, out of fear of further failure, talked myself out of trying again. (Out of a little compassion and fairness to myself, there have been a couple of other factors beyond my control that also played a part in changing course the past few years. But for the most part, I take responsibility for the choices I’ve made.)
Being that I consider myself an alchemist when it comes to turning challenges into opportunities, I’ve applied that mindset reflecting back over past experiences and this is what I’ve discovered: those previous attempts… the times I stopped drinking for a couple of months… the marathons I ran that weren’t quite fast enough to earn a spot at Boston… the bodybuilding competition prep that ended with a canceled show or placing just one spot outside of the top five…
They weren’t failed attempts. They were just part of the warm-up.
Every effort was a preparatory opportunity to gain experience and extract lessons that then could be applied to the next try. Offering me insight to apply to the next attempt.
It’s like playing a video game. Do you slay the dragon and save the princess on the first attempt? Not in my experience. Typically, I lose a few lives before I successfully complete a level, let alone an entire game. However, each time I pass through level 1, level 2, level 10… I remember where the obstacles are. I’m able to collect the coins and extra lives quicker. I recall the point at which the giant venomous ants come out of hiding and know how to access the secret spring that catapults my character over the river of molten lava that instantly ends the game if you fall in.
Every attempt is a warm-up for the next attempt… getting closer to the prize, rescuing the princess, checking another achievement off the list of goals.
Whatever goals you have yet to reach, if you don’t nail it on this try or it takes a few attempts before you do nail it, look at each one as a warm-up. Extract whatever lessons you can. And most importantly, if you feel a burning desire within the core of your being that tells you to keep going, to keep working towards that goal, please KEEP GOING. Even if you warm-up a hundred times, keep going. The princess is counting on you.