I recently read a post in a chat room about a twenty-nine-year-old man, six months shy of his thirtieth birthday, who was lamenting his feelings of failure. He had just started training for a new career and was now intimidated by the task of starting a new path. He further explained that his main complaint about feeling like a failure was his disappointment in remaining a single man with no children and his current residence with his mother.
According to conventional wisdom, most people will generally advise this gentleman not to live his life based on a schedule or schedule. I understand the mindset from which this conventional wisdom and anti-calendar thinking stems. In my opinion, this conventional wisdom leads us to focus more on the present and less on the final goal or the indicated destination. I will also point out that in the past, I have also given this advice to others. Now, I will say that there is absolutely nothing wrong with setting a schedule for your life. I still believe in the importance of giving meaning to the journey (staying in the present). However, with a schedule, not only does one’s journey have more meaning, it also has more structure. Schedules protect against being easily distracted from your goals and, over time, provide a clear understanding of how well you’re doing, so you can make adjustments as needed. If you think about it, most of us come into this world with a schedule (think elementary through high school), so it’s quite natural and expected that we develop schedules for our lives as we begin the transition into adulthood. and independence. So where do some of us go wrong? Also, how can those of us who are headed in the wrong direction redirect our paths?
According to Murphy’s Law, “if anything can go wrong, it will.” Ironically, this is a very optimistic mindset to bring to life, as anyone with this mindset will always prepare for the worst. But there is a less popular addendum to that law, which states: “Nothing is that predictable.” So if you’ve lived from your childhood through your teens with things going relatively or more or less to plan, you’re in luck. However, you are at a slight disadvantage. Think about it: If you’ve never experienced the circumstance of things going terribly wrong, then you likely feel significantly traumatized when things go terribly wrong and take you out of your schedule. This is a common reason why many people get sidetracked from their goals. It also doesn’t help that we live in a society where we constantly get the message that success is only reserved for people who work hard and are diligent in all facets of their lives. While there is some truth to this philosophy, it conveys a false positive. Which is, if one were to work hard and be diligent, everything else would always fall into place and go according to plan. Many people who preach this mindset forget to mention the external factors that play a role in people’s lives, factors over which people are powerless. Examples would be illness, death of a loved one, being born and raised in abject poverty, natural disasters… this list could go on. People who subscribe to the conventional philosophy of success tend to blame themselves when things (due to factors beyond their control) go wrong, or project blame in a direction where it is not justified.
So if you have been sidetracked from your plans or ambitions because things went terribly wrong, you may be back on track. How? By removing unnecessary “shoulds” from your mindset. The stars, moon, and neighboring planets don’t have to be aligned for you to pursue your goals. As a veteran of the ongoing war in Afghanistan, I am inspired by memories of a soldier on base, running in the mornings with a prosthetic left leg. (He had lost his leg to a roadside bomb.) In short, you don’t have to look a certain way or come from a certain background, and things don’t have to happen in a certain order for you to pursue your goals. . Learning to accept the reality of your situation and accept the blows will go a long way.
Another reason we fail to reach our goals is that we allow ourselves to be hindered by fear. This often leads to embracing the comforts of our current situation, not wanting to move forward for fear of failure. An example would be someone who struggles with shyness and is reluctant to date out of fear of rejection. However, despite the desire to start a family, they find themselves getting older and still single and continue to take no action.
There is a popular saying that “The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know”. This saying creates another false positive for most people, who are already hesitating to try to progress in any facet of their life. This is because both metaphorical demons, the one you know and the one you don’t know, are still demons. A positive spin and response to the “devil you know” sayings would be, “It’s a must to move on to the next challenge after you’ve mastered the ways to overcome a present challenge.” So how does a person, mentally overwhelmed by fear, overcome her fear to make gains in life? Acquiring support. Seeking the help of someone who can support you through the most difficult times in your life, or seeking the support of others who are going through a similar experience as you, can be a rewarding experience. As human beings, most would agree that we are creatures that strive to increase pleasure in order to reduce pain, or vice versa. However, happiness is found in the journey experienced in life.
Our journeys in life are characterized by the challenges we have overcome and are overcoming, and the best way to overcome our struggles is to put our challenges in a healthy mental context.
Ugochukwu Uche MS, LPC