Smiling at yourself
4 min read
Taking a Step Back
Have you ever been enrolled in a program where you have to complete tasks and milestones? Something like a course or a book you are reading? If you are like me that tends to get bored after some time, but still continues to finish whatever I am doing, you should agree that when you are about to finish, the idea of finishing is sweeter than when you eventually finish.
Last year I was enrolled in a google project management course, and when I started it was amazing, I went through the coursework, doing all the activities slowly to learn the best of everything.
As predicted, things got boring because I was balancing it with coding and med school. I would eventually abandon it for 2 days, and come back to power through and finish it since I even got the course as a scholarship.
In all those times of boredom and frustration and resolving to do at least one lesson a day when I was dead tired, the idea of finishing the course and getting the certificate was surreal.
I imagined the dozens of jobs that would line up for me on LinkedIn when I announced that I had learned the art of project management. My dopamine levels when I thought of the certificate landing in my e-mail were research-worthy.
"The day has come". 98% progress on the overall coursework and all I had to do was fill out a questionnaire and 20 minutes of video. After the certificate landed in my mail, and I posted it on LinkedIn, I felt intense joy for 15 seconds, after that, all that was left was the screeching sound of hollowness. All that four months of work, for an orgasmic 15 seconds?
Taking two steps back
I laugh anytime I think of that period, and after swearing to never do a course for the sake of the future, I learned something from it. We hardly remember the goals, but will almost always live in the memoirs of the journey.
I still miss writing those management letters and thinking I was a software consultant to a make-up agency used in the course.
That experience gives me joy, and even though I didn't have the wisdom to revel in the journey, I still find solace in thinking about it and other experiences.
We are a bag of experiences, but we hardly find time to reminisce about the good, bad, and awesome things that have happened to us.
We keep facing the next big thing and hating ourselves for our shortcomings without remembering that some time ago we were just directionless internet-addicted zombies with no goals. At least now, we have goals, and we are making strides to achieve them. Be grateful for yourself buddy! You are doing a good job.
Does it matter?
I need you to understand that you can always be "doing" a good job. But you might never "do" a good job. Well except you die or get depressed and shut out the world. You'll always be getting better, be it at work or at relationships.
And if you believe that we can create our own heavens here on earth, you should also believe that life in its unadulterated form is meaningless, except that we can breathe different meanings to our life. This is the beauty of creation.
Now enough of that philosophy. Apart from having stories to tell our grandkids, here are three reasons, we should normalize reflecting and documenting our victories and struggles.
We learn to tell stories and communicate better. Nothing endears people better than someone to relatable stories. If you want to live your best life, believe me, storytelling is key. Storytelling is complex, I can't give you tips on how to go about it because I'm as clueless as you are but I can tell you that if you learn to live experiences that you love, your life will become a diary to dream of.
Change happens by knowing what isn't working. I am forcing myself to reflect at the end of every day so I can know my challenges and how I got better. Reflection coupled with action leads to sustainable progression. You feeling the bars 😎?
You cultivate gratitude, which is the greatest anti-depressant I know of.
Reflection as an Action
To start reflecting, I would have to leave it to you to decide how you wish to do it, but if you still want some advice, take out a piece of paper right now and think of a very difficult goal that you achieved, then forget about the goal and rather think of the all the difficulties, highs, lows and lessons you learned.
Write it as if you are telling a story. Do this often, and soon enough you'll have an infinite amount of reasons to be grateful.
I'll leave you with a quote that sums up everything I've just said.
There are two things to aim at in life.
First, to get what you want, and after that to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second.
-Logan Pearsall Smith