A friend of mine set some goals for last week, and failed. His goals were realistic and possible, but he did not do them. He sent me an introspective email analyzing why. We had a good discussion on it, here's an excerpt of what I wrote him -
I understand. This really sucks. By the way, I still do this, myself. I still catch myself making the occasional fundamental mistake. The good thing is, no single mistake kills you (well, usually). Usually you can recover. Don't flip out when you a mistake, damage-control it and move on. How old are you - 28? You've got 10-15 years of mediocre societal programming, you don't get that out of yourself in seven days. 30 days, 60 days, you can take a huge chunk out of it. A year or two, absolutely you can almost completely re-wire yourself. But remember how you were saying, "Dude, I can do this so much faster than your timeline!" Well, I've been there. Shit like this happens. You're fighting some of your deepest, instinctual defense mechanisms to keep you alive. You've also got your toolbox of good instinctual mechanisms limited by society, so you're needing to create new tools. Basically, you've got all the disadvantages a caveman had (fear, nervousness, pressure), but you lose a lot of the advantages (unbridled, raw power, no rules, etc). You've got to make new tools - calmness, focus, intent. It takes a while. There's no shame in that - let me say this -
THERE'S NO SHAME IN THIS, IT'S NO REFLECTION OF YOU - WE'RE ALL BUILT WEAK, YOU'RE ONE OF THE FEW WHO ACKNOWLEDGES IT AND TRIES TO BECOME STRONG.
We're all built weak, man. Most people hide from it, deny it. That way they don't have to feel it. But you're diving right in, into your weakness, into your errors, into your unrefined patterns, into your fears... so you feel it. But don't mistake these things - these things are the weakness that everyone feels, there is NO SHAME in feeling it. It's part of being human. You need to feel it to conquer it. This is what I was writing in "Give me strife and suffering" -
Your mind – your thoughts – may come into conflict, especially when you’re trying to do meaningful things. It’s easy to feel the pull of distraction and ease, and to choke up and pause in fear when you look at the mountain you’re set to climb. The mind is not in harmony, especially at the beginning. Struggle, strife, conflict, suffering.
I say – give it to me! But not so fast that it will break me. I must be pragmatic. We must be pragmatic. We have our limits. We can expand them over time. It’s not brave to go into the gym for the first time and try to lift 400 pounds. It’s foolhardy, unrealistic, stupid. Being pragmatic, aware of our limits takes its own sort of courage.
But I want to suffer, I want to be bathed in strife, I want conflict, I want challenge, I want it to be hard – but just barely easy enough that I can make it through.
I set goals every week. I aim for a 70% success rate. That means I fall short on 30% of my goals every week. I figure, if I succeeded at 100% my goals weren’t set high enough. If I succeed below 70%, this might be too much to stay on the path. If I succeeded above 70%, I add more for next week. If less, I pare down to the most essential things and try to get my success rate up.
Every week I want strife and struggle. I want challenge. I want to be always falling short of what I could be, and that is the way forwards.
We're all built weak, man. It's hard to confront, so most people hide. Confront it, bathe in conflict and strife, and make it serve you. YES, it's hard. YES, we're weak sometimes. YES, we fail sometimes. GOOD, life would be BORING without strife and conflict. Embrace it, love it, work through it, and come to the other side. The external rewards on the other side are great, but nothing compared to the internal rewards of being strong and steadfast, conquering weakness, becoming the master of strife instead of afraid of it. Great things are in store, many great things. Talk soon.
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