Despite my education, I have often felt grossly unprepared to deal with the uncertainties of life. Degrees, designations, and certifications have increased the anxiety about the unknown. Why? Because through those, I have been conditioned to have a well-defined goal, course material, job description, and resources to perform well. Consequently, in the absence of plans and a clear path, I am generally stuck.
This blog is a perfect example. I have started at least 4-5 different blogs only to give up writing and publishing. I got bogged down by numerous doubts. Skill level, writing style, readership, and external approval being the biggest ones. I keep getting stuck with the chicken-and-egg problem where I don't take a step without answering all the questions, and I won't get most of the answers without taking a small step. As I was thinking about this post, the same doubts crept up again. This time, however, I took a different approach. Instead of someone who wants to become a famous writer somewhere in the future, I started seeing myself as someone who "writes every day." This subtle shift replaced the anxiety of uncertainty and expectations with the happiness of writing each day. The change in how I see myself has worked tremendously for me in areas like health and diet. For example, instead of being fit after 10 months, I see myself as someone who "lifts weights twice every week."
Similarly, instead of having a healthy diet, I see myself as someone "who does not eat processed sugar." Thus, "I write every day," "I lift weights," I write every day" is today. I don't want to become a great writer in the distant future. I write every day, and now I need to take small actions to affirm that. It relieves any pressure of expectations I might have built for myself.
Each writing session is a small affirmative step. Each blog post is a milestone on a long journey. After each writing session, my focus shifts to the next one. As the sessions accumulate slowly, they fuel my new identity as a writer, completing and reinforcing a positive loop. I can have similar positive gains with health and diet. For example, this is the first time in 12 years that I have trained for 9 weeks straight. I had not thought of it as a possibility nine weeks ago. That would have weighed heavy. Will I continue for another 9 weeks? I don't know. I know that the next training session is on Monday and I am thrilled about it.
I have learned that I often get caught up in expectations of the world. Remember that for every visible success, there are many invisible failures. Everything big was small and invisible at one point. A small wrong step doesn't hurt. I can correct it and learn from it without paying a high price. Enjoying the journey must take priority. Most importantly, while the happiness of achieving a goal decays with time, the pleasure of taking one step renews with each iteration.
Your turn. Write just one thing that you have wanted to do and makes you happy, phrasing it in a way that makes it a part of your identity. Post your sentence in the comments. Just one caution: I want to be a part of this journey from day 1, and therefore I will put one for myself too:
I talk to my parents every day.
Execute it for the first time. Welcome to the journey!