This isn’t really relevant to anything in my life right now, (thank goodness) but I was sitting around, contemplating life, the universe, and everything (actually, I was doing dishes and making supper) but I’ve been reading a lot of productivity and success related stuff, and of course you hear all about the power of perseverance and focus.
There are thousands upon thousands of examples of people who succeeded solely based on the fact that they never gave up. There are even negative examples, like the men who stopped digging “three feet from gold.”
Yes, yes, it’s good not to give up, darkest before the dawn and all that. But let’s consider the dark side to monofocus.
1. Crossing boundaries. You want it. You need it. Nothing will stop you from obtaining your goal. And so naturally, you trample right over anyone and everyone in your way. Nuh-uh. I can’t buy into that.
2. Lost opportunities. I like the story of the young worker who was taught from the cradle that if he kept his nose to the grindstone and focussed on getting the next step up the ladder, he’d climb all the way to the top of the mountain someday. When someday came, and he finally felt free to look around, he noticed that he wasn’t even on the right mountain! Whoops. I guess someone should have spent some time looking at a map.
3. Neglected relationships. Cats in the Cradle. Need I say more?
I’ve never had the problem of some people I’ve known, where I took on other people’s goals as if they were my own. But I’m still changing so swiftly (spiralling upward, I think, but still, the hopes and dreams of my younger self are incomprehensible to me now) that I cannot see devoting however many years of my life obsessing over some goal or the other.
When I was younger, I used to read everything I could get my hands on. From front to back, even if it didn’t hold my attention. Why? Because I didn’t want to be a quitter. Winners never quit, you know, and quitters never win.
Perseverance has gotten me over enough hurdles in my life that I can certainly see the merits in the philosophy. I am currently exhorting my husband to set some goal that I can help him work towards, in repayment for all he’s done for me. I don’t believe he should spend his life helping others to the exclusion of his own dreams. Self-sacrifice is all very well, but not like this. He says he doesn’t know what he wants to do. I say, “Pick something! You can change it later. Just get into the habit of goal-setting, achievement, evaluation, and achievement. Just do it.”
For myself, I don’t know that twenty years from now I’ll be able to understand wanting to make this place a major destination. I don’t know that my goal of a hundred readers a day and a booming creative culture on a website is going to weather well over time. (Certainly the topic has shifted) But it seems like as good a place as any to aim.
Hopefully, by the time that I decide that my goals aren’t really reflective of myself anymore, I will be able to use them as a springboard into something else, or pass the torch onto someone who does want to make these dreams I’m currently nurturing a reality. But either way, I won’t hold on them out of nostalgia or demand a return on my investment. Onward and upward! After I check the map.