A powerful quote by Alfred D’Souza, which I have shared in the past:
“For a long time, it had seemed to me that life was about to begin – real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be got through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last, it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life”.
Have you ever had the frustrating or upsetting feeling that you are moving too slow, or you are behind in achieving your life and/or professional goals?
I had a conversation with a senior executive who has had a very successful and impactful career so far, in which he has built strong teams, achieved extraordinary results, and has received many accolades. He was eager to find his next promotion and role. Throughout our conversation, he kept referring to his feeling that “he should have been further along in his career by now, given his age and the number of years he had been in his company…”
A different professional who was looking for ways to build greater wealth through investments, shared with me recently that he felt he was behind and he should have been wealthier by now given his age…
I have heard these types of expressions from successful people many times before about different areas of their personal and professional lives. In fact, if I am honest, I have had these feelings from time to time about my own goals.
The problem is that as ambitious people we tend to set bold objectives in order to stretch ourselves, and then somewhere along the way, especially when we face challenges, we feel we are behind, we forget that we were the ones who created these high bars for ourselves in the first place.
We move so fast that we forget or neglect to stop every now and then to review our goals and take stock of our progress.
The whole point of setting goals is to direct, focus, and, most importantly, empower ourselves. The minute our goals are out of tune, it affects our mood, spirit, and performance. We need to have the courage to change, cancel, or adjust our goals to make sure they maintain their relevance and purpose. We also need the courage to acknowledge, own, and celebrate our progress and accomplishments, even if we didn’t exactly hit our set targets.
We definitely want to avoid the trap of feeling that our validation, validity, and “OKness” is based on whether or not we have hit our goals.
The entire “retirement” concept is predicated on the following premise. We work extremely hard throughout our life, often sacrificing and neglecting key areas like family, marriage, health and recreation, in order to achieve financial and professional goals that would allow us to ‘one day’ get to that stage in life where we can “truly start doing what we love to do and enjoy our life“.
Can you hear how ludicrous that sounds!?
And let’s be honest, the dominance of social media doesn’t help at all! In fact, it only makes the pressure and stresses greater. Instead of only seeing our neighbor’s new car or job, we are now exposed to thousands of online ‘friends’ who display their ‘perfect’ lives. No wonder the feelings of ‘the grass is greener on the other side’ are stronger than ever.
Throughout our prime years, as we are working extremely hard, we feel like ‘when we get the next promotion, close the next deal, make the next million, buy the house or car of our dreams, get our children through college or married’ – “THEN life will truly be great. But then when we reach a certain age, we start looking back and talking about our life in terms of ‘the good old days…’
So, if throughout our life we feel that ‘someday’ we will start living and then at the prime of our life we feel like ‘the best is behind us’ – when is our time??? When do we enjoy today… The moment???
If you want to stop delaying your enjoyment of your life, here are some thoughts about how to do it:
- Keep reminding yourself that you are the one who created your objectives and expectations in the first place. As the author of your future, if you find your goals and timelines to be too daunting and/or stressful, change them to ones that are more reasonable and ones that empower you.
- Acknowledge your accomplishments – every month, week, and every day. Focus more on your progress and what you have accomplished and less on your gaps, deficits, and what you haven’t achieved.
- Make sure to set time in your busy life for activities that fuel you with energy, enjoyment, fun, and fulfillment… If you are a workaholic, make time for the hobby you love or for personal time, or great vacations… and take time off. If you are married and/or have kids make sure to spend quality time with them on a regular basis… force yourself to do that….
- Stop equating your material achievements and success with your self-worth. Stop getting caught in the hamster wheel of jealousy and competitiveness. When you reach certain milestones or accomplishments, take the time to appreciate and celebrate what we have accomplished. Do not move right into your next goal; don’t let the rat race continue.
- Anticipate now what you will regret in the future if you don’t do or say, and do or say it today!
- Avoid falling into the trap of comparing yourself and your life with others… or even worse, being jealous of others. As my wise wife puts it: ‘you don’t want what others have and what they don’t have!’
It’s now or never… literally!