Prepare for the Process
We all set goals. Most of them are achievable goals that should just require some time and effort. So why do so many fail to accomplish, possess and conquer? Did we set our goals too high or did we overestimate our abilities? Chances are it’s neither.
I’ve found that most people view life in two stages. The first is where they are and the second is where they want to be. Consider these examples:
Stage one is being an intern and stage two is being the CEO of their own company
Stage one is the single life and renting an apartment and stage two is married with two kids and owning a home
Stage one is being in heavy debt and stage two is being debt free
In each of these cases stage two is attainable. It’s not something that requires a super hero’s ability to reach but it does take a certain level of tenacity and preparation. You can set out on a journey and know exactly where you want to end up but if you don’t prepare yourself for the obstacles that you’ll encounter along the way then most likely never make it to the destination.
You can work hard, harder than you ever thought you could. You could persevere for weeks, months or even years and just when you’re on the precipice of reaching your goal you stumble and slip and everything comes tumbling down like Jenga blocks. You’re not alone. Young and old, rich and poor, regardless of academic achievement, most are underprepared to go through what we’ll call “the process”.
The process is a variable. It is the unpredictable occurrences that happen between stages one and two. Like a crucible it will not be pleasant, it will call the bluff on your so-called unshakable determination, any false façade will stand no chance and your foundation will be tested like never before. The proud are humbled, the strong feel weak and the confident feel uncertain. Here, many fall and struggle to get back into the fight.
There is a great story of a fisherman named Simon Peter. You might have heard it before. His stage one was being a fisherman and stage two was to be an apostle. The process took a little over three and a half years and it was filled with many highs and lows. During his transition he walked on water, healed the sick, and made strong claims that he would always remain faithful even when others were unfaithful. Did I mention he walked on water! Those are some amazing accomplishments. If all we knew of Peter’s story were these moments of glory then we would gladly go through the same process right? Well, he also had some challenging moments to go along with those glorious ones. Jesus himself called him a man of little faith, he was rebuked, humbled and ultimately he was profoundly embraced.
Can you see yourself in Peter? He worked but never quite felt accomplished. He learned but never seemed to outgrow being a student. He exercised his abilities but never felt strong enough. I can honestly say that I’ve felt this way many times over. Over the years I’ve come to realize that we must stop defining ourselves as faithful or unfaithful, strong or weak, steadfast or a quitter. The main reason why many people never get to their stage two is because they allow the negative experiences to define them. They forget that even perceived failures can lead to great success.
My favorite part of Peter’s story is right before he denies being associated with Jesus. I want to paraphrase was Jesus told him. He said: Peter, you are about to pass through a very difficult moment in your life. There is no avoiding it. You will suffer and you will feel a painful embarrassment that will cause you to run and hide. As difficult as it will be you will turn back from your shame and return stronger than ever. So much so that you will strengthen your brothers who just like you will have turned away.
So here’s my advice; learn to forgive yourself and move on as quickly as possible. As you go through your process you’ll feel like a failure, you’ll make promises to yourself and to others that are never fulfilled and there will be many, many times where you just want to quit. Feeling those emotions and thinking such things can make you stronger when you realize that it’s all a part of the process. It doesn’t mean you have to be defined by those brief moments of frustration and despair.
The most successful people never really stop going through this in life. They are constantly setting new goals and in turn they are constantly going through a new process with new challenges. Whether you are about to begin your journey or you’ve been in it for some time just remember that it in the end it will make you stronger and the victory that much sweeter.