We’ve all got it. A thing. A place, an achievement, a title, a certain amount of money, an experience. That thing we desperately want. The desire to be in the next place.
18 months ago, my thing was writing. Three years ago, it was the Great Walks and the altMBA. Five years ago, it was a half marathon. Six and a half years ago, it was a job. Ten years ago, it was new friends in a new city.
I’ll do that, I’ll get that and I’ll be alright. I’ll be enough. I’ll be satisfied.
Of course, when we look back, at some point the “it” seemed insurmountable. Too hard, too expensive, too costly (different), too stressful, too much work, too much chance of failure.
Or, we were plagued by scarcity. Not enough time, not enough passion, not enough support, not enough assurance it would work out.
I was chatting to someone who decided not to accept those excuses, and to go for her “it” last year. It involved a freedom from the 9-5 grind, a new relationship, and many new adventures overseas. When you put it like that, it sounds wonderful. I think some of it was.
It was also terrible. The way this lady told it, the enduing memories of her adventures were streaked with anxiety and frustration. The travel was cramped and isolating. The weight of the expectation of joy and delight in every moment overshadowed what little wonder she could find.
As I listened to her speak, underneath her honesty about this adventure was her wisdom. I listened to what she had learned in this tough situation. How far to push herself. What she regretted. Who she valued. Where her grit showed itself. What she would do differently.
Whatever our “it” is, once we embark on the journey of trying to realise it, we’re already learning something new about ourselves.
Running taught me that the guilt of seeing a pair of running shoes by the door the mornings I slept in was a stronger motivator than the endorphins. It taught me to enter the race so I had a public reckoning.
Writing has taught me that sometimes the words are on the surface, screaming to be let out, but most of the time it’s a slog. It has taught me that I’m far more able to write about what I believe than actually live it. It’s often been a (necessary) slap in the face.
They weren’t the lessons I expected. They weren’t really the lessons I wanted either. That’s how we grow though. That’s how we change.
So rather than berate you for not already achieving your “it”, because we all know it’s far more complicated than that, this is an invitation to reflect.
What was your “it” last month? Last decade? Last relationship? Last job?
What did you want to do, and find a way to do?
How have you changed because of that “it”?
What did you learn that you’ve carried forward?