My best friend told me she thinks I’m in a mid-mid-life crisis because I dyed my hair and bought a new wardrobe. I wouldn’t quite say I’m in a crisis, but this week has been, um, exhausting. I got moved to a new team with tougher deadlines, and I started training for my first 5K (and I hate running, so you get the picture). So I will admit it — I’m glad it’s Friday since I’m running low on motivation, and I’m this close to flopping on the couch and watching rom coms. At times like these, I like to peruse my favorite inspirational quotes, articles, and TED videos. I fondly call this process my “motivation drip,” and I hope you enjoy it too. But be warned — I’m going to go all Oprah on y’all.
Let’s start with my favorite:
“And yes, you might fail. And yes, you might sometimes look stupid. Or unprepared. Or lost. Or audacious. Or wrong. Or arrogant. Or ballsy. But you also might not. You might surprise yourself. And slowly those lost and unprepared times might become the minority rather than the majority, and soon you are looking at the Past You from a vantage point you didn’t know existed before you decided to try.”
And from that awesome article, I found this gem:
“Which leads to a question about how do we define ourselves? Is it just what we’ve done? You’ve already heard me say that, we are always 2: Who we’ve been, and who we aspire to be. Each of us is bound by our past, our accomplishments, and our failings. But I believe we are ALSO our aspirations and dreams. If each of us has a self-definition that allows us to appreciate the creative act of the moment…then we will stop denying energy to it. We will be okay with the trying and experimenting. Look around at any innovative company, and notice….they are okay failing because their self-definition includes the idea that they will ultimately figure it out.”
So really, don’t be afraid to fail. Be afraid of not having the guts to try.
“Guts is the willingness to lose. To be proven wrong, or to fail. It’s easy to be confident when you have everything aligned, when the moment is perfect. It’s also not particularly useful.”
And again, from the same author, it is only failure if you don’t learn from it.
“…when you know the difference between failures that are better off forgotten and failures that are merely successes that haven’t grown up yet.”
(That’s so much better than, “It’s not a bug; it’s a feauture!” Don’t you think?)
If life is throwing a curve ball at you, just hang in there.
“More than education, more than experience, more than training, a person’s level of resilience will determine who succeeds and who fails. That’s true in the cancer ward, it’s true in the Olympics, and it’s true in the boardroom.”
- Diane L. Coutu, HBR’s “How Resilience Works”
If you’re going through a hard time with your goals and self-improvement list right now, consider that you might be in the dip (You know, the feeling of being stuck and tired and ready to give up…), and actually be encouraged by that fact. It means you are exactly where you should be!
- Big goals aren’t handed to you. You have to earn them.
- If it is anything worth doing, you will hit a dip.
- The dip is the toll you cross, the dues you pay.
- You will want to give up.
- You will question yourself.
- You will feel uncomfortable.
- You will want to fling yourself back into your comfort zone, but you won’t.
- You will push through it.
- And as much as it might suck, celebrate as you wade your way through the dip.
- Live for the dip.
- Laugh when you can; cry, scream or vent if you need to; and know that you’ll emerge stronger on the other side. Dragon slayed. Finish line in sight. Big dream conquered.
Keep on pushing yourself to be better. Try your best, and then do more, but remember, done is better than perfect.
“There are a million valedictorians, even more A+ students.
There are a million absolutely beautiful girls. Perfection just puts you in a club.”
“Perfectionism is a deadly enemy of good performance. It’s like being judged every time you write a sentence or paragraph. It’s far better to go ahead, make mistakes and learn from them. Rather than expecting great output from a burst of frenzied inspiration, the idea behind Boice’s brief regular sessions is to work with moderate daily expectations, knowing this will lead in time to better results.”
And finally, for when you’re already doing your 1000% (yes, that is one thousand), being you’re rockstar self, and yet the imposter boogey-man comes knocking:
“…so I ended up at Princeton, and I was like, I am not supposed to be here. I am an impostor. And the night before my first-year talk, and the first-year talk at Princeton is a 20-minute talk to 20 people. That’s it. I was so afraid of being found out the next day that I called her and said, “I’m quitting.” She was like, “You are not quitting, because I took a gamble on you, and you’re staying. You’re going to stay, and this is what you’re going to do. You are going to fake it. You’re going to do every talk that you ever get asked to do. You’re just going to do it and do it and do it, even if you’re terrified and just paralyzed and having an out-of-body experience, until you have this moment where you say, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m doing it. Like, I have become this. I am actually doing this.’” So that’s what I did. Five years in grad school, a few years, you know, I’m at Northwestern, I moved to Harvard, I’m at Harvard, I’m not really thinking about it anymore…”
-Amy Cuddy’s TED talk: Your Body Language Shapes Who You are
I hope that got you riled up and ready to work even harder! Really, if what we are doing is not tough or hard to do, then what are we doing then? Are we wasting our life, just coasting along? Maybe that is what I love about being a programmer the most. I live for the feeling of triumph when you’ve finally figured out that one last thing, or that feeling when you’ve finally tracked down the bug, or when your function finally works. The same can be said for any aspect of life that we have to work hard for, whether it is a college degree, a new job, even a marathon. We push ourselves constantly because we know our goal is worth it, our goal will make our circumstance better. We push ourselves because…well, reaching a goal is euphoria.