The most important thing in any venture in life is to keep yourself focused on the big picture; work hard, as is often advised – stick to a routine, but stay fresh, creative and open-minded. The daily grind, routine, discipline and getting the details right is important, vital even, however one we must remember what the end goal is. It is very easy to fly off, in enthusiasm or momentary dispair, into unproductive questioning and back-tracking, or even sudden plans to turn it all around.
Reading Chris Nichols’ blog entry titled “Remembered for Something” on his blog The Renegade Press, I think about ambition. In his revealing piece, Chris writes about a moment of weakness in which he sought fame, and wanted to take his writing talent to the world. His ego told him he wants to be great, he wants to sell many books, be famous and make lots of money. He got sidetracked, ended up spending time on tasks other then his writing, with no positive results forthcoming, Chris had to look within him self and find his way back to his original path and goal – to write. This is a place we all finds oursleves, not only in the sphere of writing, but in all paths of life. I think it has a lot to do with ambition, and in a number of ways it is a product of societal expectations. This ‘trap’ can be very powerful in holding us back from pursuing our passions and doing things our way. Instead of simply doing it we ask – What will I become? Will I be good at it, successful?
We all want to be good at something. By being ‘someone’ – a writer, manager, professor, accountant, we are defined and safe.”What do you do?” – is a question we want to answer safely, convincingly, without roundabout explanations. That is a minimum. Then comes ambition and expectations. We want to be good at what we do, but whats important we want others to acknowledge that we are good, and we want to be rewarded for it. With this in mind we may actually loose sight of what we want to do, or what we saw as our big picture. Instead of getting down to write, one will spend time trying to sell their writing to the big publishers, instead of pursuing a business idea or gaining new skills one may focus on looking for a job, believing that the job will provide satisfaction, money and a piece of mind.
Recently in a conversation with a young work collegue of mine, I was saying that it is really, really difficult to actually do what you want in life. It must be said that for most of us even knowing what we WOULD want to do in life is not obvious. I stress the WOULD, because at that instant I consider a hypothetical case – if we suddenly had absolutely no excuses – time, money, physical condition etc. – would we actually know what we wanted to do?
At times of optimistic highs, I manifest the belief that one should try to do what they think is right for them, what they feel they are good at or what they where destined to do. If some searching is necessary, then that is what one should devote themselves to. This may mean years of not fulfilling ‘your potential’ or years of going in circles and endlessly battling self-doubt. Staying vulnerable, but with the belief that – “there maybe something there for me”. After all what is the alternative? Will we get a second chance?
When pessimism hits, I set my sights on all the negative interpretations of “reality”. A bout of desperation often results in a determined dash towards the safehouses of “good job”, various specialist courses, and throwing away all the distractive and destructive nonsense. Trying to answer questions such as – Where will I be in ten years? Do I actually know what I am doing? Then, once the pessimism wears off, I come to the realisation that I prefer to stay myself, struggle but do it my way, with hope that I will find what I am looking for or what I set my mind on will in the end prove to be the right choice.
In the end we only have this one shot at it. So.. don’t be scared of failure, don’t let your ambition blind your passion and do not worry what others think of you.