Where Is Success? How Do I Find It?
It was easier for me to be successful when I was in school. I knew what the rules were. The path was straight-forward. Listen in class. Take good notes. Do the homework. Study for the exams. Get good grades. Move on to the next grade and eventually graduate.
It’s different in life, particularly when you are making big changes to your life. I still listen to experts, take good notes, do my homework, and study. However, the path isn’t straight and it isn’t always obvious.
I’ve had to get really cozy with rejection and failure. (And who wants that? I can tell you who doesn’t want it - I don’t. Yet, here I am, still doing the work.)
I was thinking about the path to success in relation to my walk to Castle Hill in Almondbury, England, the other day.
There’s Castle Hill in the distance. Isn’t it beautiful?
It’s like a beautiful goal that you see from afar. You want it and you think that you know how to get there. It won’t be the easiest walk, but it’s definitely possible.
Though I couldn’t always see the castle as I walked, I knew it was there and I was on the right path. The terrain became increasingly steep, which I hadn’t been expecting, but that was OK.
And then I got to the last bit, expecting to be close to the top, and instead I found stairs. I hadn’t seen stairs when I decided to do this! I had already been walking uphill for 2 miles, and now, I had to climb stairs? I smiled and started up.
And, so it is with moving toward a goal. It doesn’t necessarily get easier as you go along. Sometimes, it gets harder.
When I got to the top of those stairs, I found … more stairs. That is how it can be in life. You think you are so close to achieving your goal, just to find one more obstacle strategically placed in your way.
Still, at the end of it all, on my walk to Castle Hill, I reached my goal.
After that, I got to bask in the view from the top, then take a pretty leisurely downhill walk back toward home.
In life, though, when you are making big changes, it’s not that simple. You can think that you are on the right path, and then suddenly, it’s like you were dropped into the Enchanted Forest. You are surrounded by obstacles. You can’t even see your goal anymore. You have no idea where you are. You have no idea whether you’re going in the right direction. Your choices are to 1. just keep climbing up and hope for the best, 2. stop, rest, and reassess, or 3. just go home, back to that lovely comfort zone.
It’s in this spot that it’s the easiest to give up.
Your goal is no longer in sight. You might not even believe that it exists anymore as an option.
You’ve been working really, really hard. You just want to sit and rest.
Maybe you want to retreat to your comfort zone and forget all about that crazy goal.
I hear you. I’ve definitely had those moments.
Do take the time to sit and rest. You’ve been working really hard and you get to sit and rest.
Do take time to reevaluate your strategy. Are you heading in the right direction or have you gone off on a side path? Do you need to take a different path? Do you need any additional supports in place that you hadn’t thought about initially?
Do take time to reevaluate your goal. Why did you set it in the first place? Is it still what you want? If so, how can you get there?
For me, when I am stuck in the Enchanted Forest, it helps me to remember what my goal is and why I set that goal in the first place. For example, right now, I’m wandering the globe, doing international petsitting, pitching my memoir, “After the Attempted Kidnapping,” to agents, and working on my business, Meredith helps you grow. I want to eventually settle in Norway, but that hasn’t happened for me yet.
I can feel like, “Aaargh, I’m doing all this work! Why isn’t it working for me?”
However, 1. It is working for me (at least to some extent, though not as fast as I would like it to) and 2. I knew when I set out on this journey that it wouldn’t be easy. I also knew that I had to do it.
I had a greater motivator than most to set me off on my journey. The man who tried to kidnap me will be getting out of prison in 13 years or so and will probably come looking for me if I am living in Maine when he gets out. I would say that I am probably in the top 3 on his death list. My choices were - start a new life now or start a new life later. I chose now.
When I think about it like that, I am crystal clear on why I am not in Maine anymore.
I might not like the Enchanted Forest, but I recognize that I can’t go back to my comfort zone, either.
That means, I just have to find a way to succeed.
I can get too caught up, though, in chasing my goal. That works fine on the days when all is going smoothly, when I’m hard at work and the goal is in sight. It doesn’t work as well on days which do not go smoothly, when I’m dealing with rejection and failure and the goal seems to be an impossible dream. When I am caught up in striving, in the feeling of scarcity, of not having enough, of not being enough, I feel anxious and unfulfilled.
What I have found in my year of wandering the globe is that it’s best to live in the present moment and enjoy the moment. The truth is that I like walking uphill. I like the challenge of it.
I also like moving toward goals. I love the wonder of something new, learning, creating, problem-solving, and implementing new procedures. I love change. I love the creative process.
There is joy in the journey if you let there be. The trick is to focus on the present moment, while also being cognizant of the goal.
When I am too focused on the goal, then I strive too much. I’m unsettled, ungrounded. I don’t listen to what my body needs. I just move forward at all costs.
When I am simply present, I can see the beauty and the joy in what is. I can let go of that little voice that says, “Even if it is not all that I want it to be.”
When I pause to reassess, I can see how far I’ve come. I may not know how much farther I have to go, but I know how far I have already gone, and that in itself is quite an accomplishment.
If you’re feeling stuck, if you’re in the Enchanted Forest and you want someone to process it with, reach out to me. Let’s talk it through.