In December I completed my first 200-hour yoga instructor certification. With New Year’s resolutions in full gear and Q1 initiatives in motion, I’m often reminded of an idea I explored during my certification and has guided me since, in both my personal life and in all of my work at Zirtual.
The idea is simple yet stunningly important: You are exactly where you’re supposed to be.
Our society has an intense quest for productivity and endless improvement. We look at our past with a dissecting eye and zoom in on what we didn’t accomplish. We set goals and record what we did, day in and day out.
But how do we use this data? Is it to celebrate each accomplishment? Hardly! We usually use what we have done to highlight what we haven’t, and everything starts to center around what’s next. “Tomorrow I’ll get through this,” we say. Or “next quarter I’m finally going to tackle that.”
When we look to others, however, we rarely view their accomplishments through this lens of lack. We heed the advice of celebrity business leaders, fitness professionals, and industry experts. We admire their successes. Our minds laserbeam to their major feats, which we use to spur our own motivation to succeed. You probably haven’t heard, “Wow, Virgin didn’t break into automobiles last year — Branson definitely needs to get moving in 2014.”
But that is precisely what we do, day in and day out, with ourselves.
About halfway through my eight-week certification program, I was chatting with an instructor before class one day. She asked how training was going, and I rattled off a few sentences about the classes, assignments and readings I hadn’t done yet. Then I rattled off a few more about what I’d do in the weeks ahead to get back on track and do everything I was supposed to do.
We went into class and sweat for an hour.
On my way out of the studio, the instructor said something that’s stuck with me since. “Hey,” she stopped me. “Just think about this: you’re probably doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing. Where you are now is where you’re supposed to be.”
She went on to describe how we often miss out on what are doing in the present because we’re overly concerned with what we aren’t doing. We busy ourselves with planning how to achieve in the future and lose out on what we’re achieving right now.
We don’t treat our own accomplishments, and ourselves, like we do our role models.
In business and in life, goal-setting can be crucial to success, and using past experiences to drive us forward is an essential learning practice. It’s good to dissect. It’s good we strive to improve. I wouldn’t dare combat the march for self-improvement.
However, we’re left without meaning if we don’t also taking time to appreciate and accept where we are and what we’ve done. Why continually strive for a better future without taking time to appreciate what you’re doing? It’s a recipe for continual discontent.
So I encourage you all to treat yourself like you treat your role models. Let’s use our accomplishments as reason for our own celebration and inspiration.
I’m talking to you, hungry entrepreneurs, and you, type-As. We may have plans to take over the world, and we may or may not have achieved our goals. But I bet that there’s role model material in whatever you’ve already accomplished in work and in life and room to treat yourself like one.
Perhaps a launch date was pushed back six months. Maybe a seemingly great deal fell through the cracks. Maybe you read fifty books last year or maybe you read one. Whatever happened, I’ll contend that you are where you are supposed to be.
So humor me and share in my newfound mindset, or at least just consider it. As you set goals, make one to stop and appreciate your accomplishments. Give yourself the role model treatment, and then get on with changing the world.
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Image: adapted from Pedro Szekely/Flickr