“Trying” to do is different than doing and different than not doing. Trying lets us off the hook – we don’t have to succeed and we don’t have to fail. We don’t have to really do anything. That is languishing, NOT flourishing.
Trying Or Doing?
“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”
Once upon a time, as I attended a workshop, the presenter asked me to come up to the front of the room. She laid a pencil down on the table and said to me, “Try to pick that pencil up.”
I picked up the pencil. “No,” she said, “I said ‘Try to pick it up.’ Instead, you picked it up. Now, again – try to pick the pencil up.”
Success has been defined as “the progressive realization of a worthy goal”. Setting meaningful goals gives you focus and a target to aim for. Writing them down insures that you won’t lose sight of your destination.
Unable to See Her Goal
“When she looked ahead, Florence Chadwick saw nothing but a solid wall of fog. Her body was numb. She had been swimming for nearly sixteen hours. Already she was the first woman to swim the English Channel in both directions. She had managed to finish that swim in a record time, 16 hours and 22 minutes on August 8, 1950. Now, at age 34, her goal was to become the first woman to swim from Catalina Island to Palos Verde on the California coast.
“On that Fourth of July morning in 1952, the sea was like an ice bath and the fog was so dense she could hardly see her support boats. Sharks cruised toward her lone figure, only to be driven away by rifle shots. Against the frigid grip of the sea, she struggled on – hour after hour – while millions watched on national television.
“Alongside Florence in one of the boats, her mother and her trainer offered encouragement. They told her it wasn’t much farther. But all she could see was fog. They urged her not to quit. She never had . . . until then. With only a half mile to go, she asked to be pulled out.
Caring people live in a caring world. Loving people live in a loving world. Mean people live in a mean world. Grouchy people live in a grouchy world. It’s the same world . . . what you focus on expands.
“In fact, I don’t understand why I act the way I do. I don’t do what I know is right. I do the things I hate. . . Even when I want to do right, I cannot. Instead of doing what I know is right, I do wrong.” ~ Romans 7: 15, 18b-19 [Bible Gateway]
Three Riders On The Subway
Things were not going well at work. And, if I were truthful with myself, things weren’t going well in my life, period. Much like the apostle, Paul, even when I wanted to do what is right, I didn’t do it.
I scanned the subway cars, looking for one that was near empty. In my foul mood, I really didn’t want to be around anyone. I spotted a car that had only 3 people in it. Shoulders slumped, head down, I stepped in, not making eye-contact with any of the others, moving to a seat as far away as I could get.
Having a talent for a specific endeavor does not insure that you will do it. You must exert effort to transform the talent into a skill. Turning the talent into skill does not insure that you’ll achieve your objective. You must exert more effort to transform the skill into achievement.
A Failed Dream
I was 6 years old and excited to have the chance to take piano lessons. I loved music and dreamed about playing – hymns in church or songs for my family to sing together. Although they didn’t have a lot of money, my parents bought a nice new piano and had it placed in our living room. A friend of our family, Miss Pritchard, who played piano at church, agreed to give me lessons.
The first book was a breeze. Simple songs to start my understanding of the techniques of the piano. My teacher wrote numbers over the notes and then numbers on the corresponding keys of the piano. It was a simple matter to match the numbers on the page to the numbers on the keys.
Miss Pritchard also gave me scales to practice. But for this part, I wasn’t as diligent at practicing as I could have been — I found it boring to play the same 8 keys over and over. But I practiced my songs and when we had our first recital, I was a star! I performed the best and Miss Pritchard gave me a big hug when the recital was over.
Setting goals is a requirement for achieving your best life and living out your potential. Goals give you direction and focus. They are important for another reason as well — setting and achieving goals improves your well-being and positivity. But keep in mind that all goals are not created equal — some motivate you more than others. Choose goals that add to your positivity and keep you motivated to achieve them.
A Life Changing Gift
When I was in my early 30s, I was introduced to the man who changed my life. That man was Earl Nightingale. Of course, I didn’t literally meet Mr. Nightingale, but I received a program on audiotapes called Lead The Field as a birthday gift. In this series of audiotapes, Earl Nightingale provided numerous ideas on what it means to live a successful life. He expanded and expounded on the ideas he originally articulated in his program, “The Strangest Secret“.
I had more or less stumbled upon a career that I enjoyed but it was more by accident than by design. Through Lead The Field, I was exposed to a number of ideas that I had never been taught before. As I say, it was a life-changing experience for me. And it began my journey of learning and implementing ideas for self-growth and self-improvement. One of those ideas to which I was newly exposed was the concept of setting goals.
Sometimes the hardest thing to do, and the thing that can make a huge difference in your life, is to say “I changed my mind.”
“It is amazing how many uncomfortable situations people get into and stay in because they are unwilling or afraid to admit that they’ve changed their minds.” ~ Brian Tracy
Do you know one of the main reasons people lose money in the stock market? They don’t have an exit strategy. They don’t know when to cut their losses and get out of a bad investment. Or, they think that if they just hang in there, the stock will rebound and they’ll make their money back. It seems to go against our nature to face up to a loss or a situation that is going badly and to make a change. Sometimes, one of the best things you can say is “I changed my mind.”
We stay in circumstances that are uncomfortable, unprofitable, unfulfilling, sometimes even dangerous, rather than taking the steps to make a change and improve the situation. We find it too hard to say “I changed my mind.”
Nothing is easier than self-deceit. For what each man wishes, that he also believes to be true. ~ Demosthenes
My Two Sets Of Glasses
I wear glasses. I’ve worn them since the sixth grade which is, well, quite a few years. Here is an interesting thing about wearing glasses. Once I put them on, I forget I’m wearing them. I mean, of course one can see better. But other than that, I don’t feel them on my face and I don’t have the sensation of looking through something. I usually don’t even think about having them on or remember that I’m looking through them at the world.
I also wear a different set of glasses . . . and so do you. These “glasses” are the beliefs you and I have, through which our view of the world is colored and shaped. And, just as I do with my physical glasses, we typically don’t realize we’re wearing our glasses of beliefs.
Accomplishment is one of the elements of well-being theory. We sometimes pursue accomplishment for its own sake, as well as in conjunction with the other elements – positive emotion, engagement, positive relationships, and meaning. Using deliberate practice to develop talent and skill is one path to accomplishment.
“Can You Swim?”
A professor was being ferried across a large river. To pass the time, he struck up a conversation with the boatman.
The professor asked the boatman, “Can you write, my good man?”
“No,” answered the boatman, “I never learned to write.”
“Then you have lost one third of your life,” the professor said. “Can you read?”
“No, sir,” replied the boatman. “I can’t read.”
“Then you have lost half of your life.”
Suddenly, the ferry scraped across a large rock and it tore a hole in the bottom.
Motivation can be measured by this equation: “EXPECTANCY x VALUE / IMPULSIVENESS x DELAY”. Increasing either or both of the 1st two factors and / or decreasing either or both of the 2nd two, increases motivation. Motivation is higher for goals that are rewarding for the pursuit than for those where the reward comes at the completion of the goal.
A Failure At Goal Setting
Has this ever happened for you? You decide you want to make a change, so you set a goal. Perhaps you wanted to improve your diet and eat healthier. Or you wanted to lose weight. Maybe you wanted to pay down your debt and start a savings fund. Or you had some other goal that was important to you.
I have chosen those goals and others at different times. But, I’m sorry to say, things didn’t always work out the way I planned. Sometimes, I began working on a goal right away. However, in the back of my mind, I seriously doubted that I’d ever reach it.
Our goals and aspirations generally fall into two categories – what we say we want and what we really want as shown by our actions. What do your actions say that you want?
“Just wishin’ and hopin’ and thinkin’ and prayin’ and plannin’ and dreamin’ . . .” ~ Wishin’ And Hopin’ by Dusty Springfield
Actions Speak Louder . . .
“I’m very dependable; you can count on me,” my friend told me at lunch one day. She did not see the irony in the fact that she had been 10 minutes late that day and had been late the last two times we met. I did what I usually do in those situations — I smile and nod and then watch to see if the actions suit the word. “Who you are speaks so loudly,” said Emerson, “I can’t hear what you are saying.”