It’s quite cliché and obvious to almost everyone that if you can see it with your own eyes, that means it’s possible. However, only a small handful of people will make what seems impossible, possible.
You know how we all have this friend or friends who always say that they can do something if they want? Especially when the subject of the conversation is a mutual acquaintance who surprisingly “made it”? Or we might even be that friend.
The truth is we all can do anything we want, as long as we put our minds, hearts, and souls to it. We just have to invest the hours and make uncomfortable sacrifices in the short and medium term. Not many of us do, though.
Anyone can do it, but not everyone will. In fact, only a minute minority of the global population will. That’s precisely why it’s so hard to be “successful” in anything at all. Only those who persevere through hardships in which 99.99% of the people would give up, will come out on top.
I’m writing some reflections I’ve been internalising because of the doubts I’m having about my journey, and also partially due to the negative energy from the people around me. Hopefully, this would help anyone who is reading this as a bonus.
First things first, there are a few important things to nail down – process, progress, and passion. I believe these three P’s are the guiding compass to anyone’s journey when we lose focus and direction, which will very much be the case every now and then.
I placed process before progress because without a commitment and dedication to processes, there’ll be no progress. It’s through the grinding of processes that results in an incremental, visible progress.
Once you lose focus on the process, you doubt yourself, the journey, and even the purpose of the goal.
Process is underrated and seldom talked about by anyone – it’s boring, mundane, and even predictable. Most people don’t realise that’s exactly why process is so important. Many people don’t have the tenacity to stick to processes, but therein lies the opportunity for the tenacious.
Processes are predictable yet hard to implement – it requires a level of commitment not everyone is ready to invest in. And that commitment sometimes also require a degree of craziness and trust in them even when it gets very uncomfortable and painful.
Think of something you’ve put your mind, heart and soul into, without considering the outcome. For me, one of the first I’ve experienced in my life was back in secondary school when I was in the school symphonic band.
I practised day and night, almost every single day, to a point where I nearly failed my ‘O’ Levels (the equivalent of a college entry exams) because I spent all my free time on practising my french horn and mastering pieces. Never once did I stop and think about the “end”.
I know that’s not the best example because of how I nearly ruined my future when I was a teenager, but you get the point I’m driving at – what we need is investing in processes and believing in the journey, and monitoring the progress.
Process is almost everything, but it’s only part of the puzzle. Knowing how to evaluate progress (or the lack of) is akin to knowing which boxes to check off while investing in processes can be thought of as going through the checklist diligently without ever looking at how long the list is.
If there’s progress, you gain momentum. And momentum is often what differentiates a person who seems to always have the motivation to go on, from everyone else resting on the sidelines whenever they can or want to.
That’s not to say we should never take a rest, far from that. What I’m suggesting is to set yourself up to capitalise on momentum. Don’t take a break when you know you can push on for more without resting.
Why take one full day to complete a task at hand and “reward” yourself with rest when you could finish two tasks and rest tomorrow, especially when you’re already in the zone?
When progressing forward is a problem, though, it’s often a sign that either you’re doing something wrong or you’re at a stage where progress is not as visible anymore. If it’s the latter, it’s a happy problem because most progress happens at the early stages of the journey and tapers off as you get further.
If you’re doing something wrong, bring yourself back to basics – are you following the processes or are you veering off? Or are you losing steam because of consecutive setbacks? It’s often either of the two.
Before you think this is another senseless “pep talk” about passion, it’s more about the emotions that bubble up when you think about a goal you want to achieve. Just raw burning passion will fizzle out very quickly, especially when you don’t reach your goal after just a couple of failures.
Forget about the bad rep surrounding the overused word “Passion” with a capital P and think of it just as the emotional connection you have with your goal. Is it a personal goal that will make you more fulfilled because you know you’ve overcome a tough challenge, or is it a goal you set just out of FOMO that everyone who you think is “inferior” to you, has done it?
If it’s the former, the passion you feel for your goal and the journey feeds on the process and progress – it’s like an automatic, self-winding watch on a wrist that never stops clocking miles every day. It’s self-sustaining.
On the other hand, the latter will leave you with regrets even when you eventually reach the goal, regretting not spending your time and effort on a goal you want to fight for. That’s probably why we all have new year resolutions on which we give up just a few months into the new year.
The natural question would be: So how do I keep my passion burning for a goal I set for myself?
It’s not a popular opinion and advice, but don’t set a goal out on a whim. Take the time to deliberate and think through. Don’t set a goal because you want to know how it feels like when you achieve it. Set a goal because you know you have follow-up goals once you achieve that first one.
“We think success is a one-way street. So we do everything that leads up to success, but then we get there. We figure we’ve made it, we sit back in our comfort zone, and we actually stop doing everything that made us successful. And it doesn’t take long to go downhill. Success isn’t a one-way street…it’s a continuous journey.”– Richard St John
Often, the things that we want to achieve are not exciting, and that’s fine. And even if your goals change over the years, that’s fine too. There are only so many “exciting” achievements in the world that takes the global spotlight. Work towards a goal you’ll be proud of, not to make others envy you.