It can be simple. If you let it.
I sat waiting in my car in the dark, last in a long line of cars. When my 11-year-old son finally got in the car, he could barely contain himself.
“Mom, I’m so close! I’m almost there!” He told me.
He’s doing an after-school program at an indoor trampoline park. (Have to keep those boys moving in the winter months when it’s hard to run around outside).
He has been working on his flip on the trampoline. Working and working.
“Mom, I’ve almost reached my goal! I bet I’ll get there by next Thursday! Some of the other kids wanted to play dodgeball today, but I stayed on the trampoline to keep practicing. I know I’ll get it soon.”
He was ebullient. Invigorated at the thought of reaching his goal. Not afraid to keep trying, even though he had failed every time so far. And confident that he would get there if he kept working.
Here’s the thing. He has worked on his flip for a few weeks, and can’t quite get it. But that has had no impact on his mindset and enthusiasm.
I asked him why doing a flip was so important to him. He told me:
“I’ll be so proud of myself for learning how. And then maybe I can make a YouTube video to help other people learn how to do it! It’s only 4 steps.”
(For the record, my 11-year-old is not allowed to make YouTube videos. But a boy can dream.)
He went on to tell me, in glorious detail, all the steps you need to master to do a flip on a trampoline. One of them included, don’t be scared.
Why can’t we all think about our goals this way? Why does it have to get so complicated?
We get inside our heads so much as adults. We fear that other people judge us for not being at our goal yet. We judge ourselves, ruthlessly. We tell ourselves that we “should” get there faster. We think it’s more complicated for us than anyone else. Or somehow, more difficult.
My son proudly told me about his friend Jason, who can do both front flips and backflips. But he thinks of Jason as motivational, not defeating. “If he can do it, why can’t I?” Because in his mind, how is Jason’s success related to his abilities?
We also think that if we fail one time or even 10 times, it means we won’t get there. That there is the right number of failures (none). And that failure is always a sign that we should give up. But maybe we should adjust our thoughts. Think that with every failure, we get closer to our goal. Not farther away. If we just keep practicing, keep moving forward.
If there is something we want to do. A goal we want. We should feel excited and proud about the journey. We should be confident in our ability to reach it, no matter how long it takes. Stop judging ourselves so harshly for not reaching our goal by some arbitrary time point. And we should stop worrying so much about what other people think or do. Because it has nothing to do with us or our journey.
The next time you find yourself faltering on your way to your goal. Second guessing your abilities. Or comparing yourself to others. Remember the joy of learning a flip on the trampoline. What could be more exciting? Why can’t you do it? And won’t you be so proud of yourself when you do?
Yes, it can be that simple. If you let it.