“Your direction is more important than your speed.”– Unknown
I’ve been thinking a lot about this quote today and I’ve been thinking a lot about how I can resonate with it on a rather personal level. And in thinking about that, I wanted to share my thoughts with you, too.
We all have deadlines in life: University deadlines, financial deadlines, work deadlines. But I think the most stressful deadlines of all that add to these little pressures in life are personal deadlines. Deadlines that we set ourselves, for no reason other than our drive to achieve and do well.
At the start of lockdown, I sat down and began a life long dream of mine: writing a novel.
Writing a novel is truly an emotional rollercoaster. And without delving into the nitty gritty elements of novel writing, it’s easily become the biggest deadline in my life—let’s just forget about my dissertation for the moment and pretend I don’t have twenty interviews to write and conduct and transcribe and thematically analyse.
You may be reading this and thinking what the hell is she getting at? In fact, you probably don’t realise how much you can resonate with what I’m about to say. And I don’t know who needs to hear this, but for all the people out there who put immense amounts of pressure on themselves to succeed, this is for you.
“I measure my self-worth by how productive I’ve been, but no matter how hard I work, I still feel inadequate.”– Rupi Kaur, Productivity Guilt.
Just stop. Just take a step back from what you’re doing, from the goal you’re trying to achieve, and give yourself some damn credit.
The problem I’ve faced with myself is I never think I’ve done my best. I never think what I’ve done is good enough. And all my life, no matter what I do, there’s always that voice whispering in the back of my mind; convincing me whatever I’ve done is some way going to fail or be unsuccessful even before I’ve reached my end goal. Even when I do my best, in my eyes, there’s always potential that I could’ve spent that Saturday night doing more rather than watching Teen Wolf. That I could’ve spent that Sunday between 1 and 2pm doing more rather than scrolling through Pinterest looking at cafe food. That is my problem. Right there. The inability to look at the progress I’ve made; the inability to take a step back and be proud of myself for how far I’ve come. I’m forever finding ways to convince myself I’ve not done enough.
Since March, I have written 216,000 words of my novel.
But still, that’s not enough for me. I want it finished. I want it published. I want to be a national best seller and I want it in my hand right now. And because this is something I want so badly, impatience is becoming the devil on my shoulder. No matter how much I have already achieved, it’s never going to be enough until I reach that end goal—and quickly.
Think about your personal goal—your personal deadline. Are you still moving forward? Can you look back and say I’m not in the same place I was last month or even a year ago? If so, good. You’re still moving. You’re still striving for that goal and slowly creeping closer towards it.
When I think I’m near the end of completing whatever goal it is I’ve set myself, I get this surge of motivation to ride it out and put my all into it. But the second I realise how much work is needed in certain places, I fall into a sluggish rut. I demotivate myself and tell myself I’m never going to achieve my goal, just because it’s literally taking me a bit longer than I originally thought.
I need to stop being so harsh on myself. And so do you. Stop evaluating your abilities—your skills and your talents—from how quickly you achieve them. The direction in which you move is vital. As long as every six months you can take a step back from your personal deadlines and analyse how far you’ve come since you started, you’ll find you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how far you’ve come.
It takes patience and perseverance to achieve your goals. It’s only you and your internal pressures setting the personal deadlines that make you feel inadequate. Because there is no time frame in which excellency is achieved. It takes time. It takes lots of time. And by measuring our talents through how quickly we achieve, is only a long, miserable path to self-doubt and de-motivation that will have you abandoning your passion and goals because of your own internal pressures and intrusive thoughts.
Just some food for thought on a locked down Tuesday.