Suppose I’m a little mouse. And I’m scared of making myself vulnerable, walking out in the open. I’d rather stay in my safe cozy hole in the wall.
But sometimes I peek my head out of my hole and then I dream of the other side of the room, and how wonderful it would be to see beyond what is in my direct line of view.
For any mouse, with any dream, I would applaud him for taking that first step out of his hole, however small, towards getting somewhere. I don’t care whether the mouse will actually reach its goal. I don’t even really care what its goal is. I just know that those steps are hard and scary, and I have humble admiration for anyone who dares make them.
What saved me numerous times on my GRASPe adventure is the following: I set out to try and see if a freelancing life is right for me at this moment. I never ever had any thoughts about succeeding or failing. I just wanted to find out what it would feel like if I were a freelancer. I didn’t need to succeed. I just wanted to try. By keeping that attitude, I was not attached to the outcome of being successful in my freelancing business.
I remember a time when I was not happy. I did not have any clients, I had to do things every day that didn’t fit me, I did not know what I was doing and I had no clue how to improve it all. I was very uncomfortable and almost hopeless. I remember crying at my kitchen table because I was out of cards to play. I didn’t know what to do.
Then I asked myself one question: “Do you really want to be doing this?” and I added: “If this is not what you want, you are allowed to stop right this moment.”
I fell silent for a moment. It was an important moment, a moment in which I remembered what my goal was. My goal was to TRY and do this. To see what it was like. And what was I doing? I was still TRYING to have a freelancing business. ANY step I would take, no matter which one, was one forward because it meant I was still doing what I wanted to be doing.
Succeeding is not the point. Taking steps towards your goal is. And I think it more valuable to applaud someone else when he is taking steps than to giving him an ovation when he succeeds.
Life, to me, is not about reaching success. Life is about living the life you design for yourself. And in any design process, it is about making choices on gut feeling. And then acting on those choices.
So I have a suggestion to make. Instead of focusing on succeeding, let’s start celebrating those scary steps we make towards the lives we want to lead. However big or small.
On my ‘celebration paper’ (the sheet of paper with 5 empty slots for post-it’s that state something worth celebrating and when full, I go celebrate) I will, from now on, put big decisions instead of big successes. This seems to reflect my sentiment more :)
Bilbo went on an adventure, not knowing whether he would succeed.
Alice leapt through the hole and stepped through the looking glass, not knowing what was on the other side.
And each and every one of you gets up every day, not knowing what the day will bring.
These are the things that should be applauded.
Two more things I’d like to add, supported by two of my heroes:
1) If it’s scary, DO IT! It’s the only criterium there is to know you are on the right path. (paraphrased from Linchpin by Seth Godin)
2) The act of acting will only work if the time is right. I believe that sometimes, it can be too soon to change or to go forwards. Sometimes you have to stop and pause. Wait for it to happen. I’ve told tons of friends that sometimes ‘I’m in the waiting room.’ ‘Things need to sit and simmer for a while.’ and ‘I’m sure I will get there, when the time is right.’ I called it waiting. Now, because of this blogpost by Raptitude, I call it pausing. He says: “To pause is to stop and pay attention. To wait is to stop your body while you continue to the next moment in your head.”
And in my experience, pausing is a great way of moving forwards.