It is a curious trait, maybe instilled from our culture, that there is such an overwhelming desire in many of us to paint things as “all or nothing”. Oh, we don’t usually frame it that way. We just say things like “I don’t have the time to do a good job at it” or “I want to do it right.”
In reality life usually doesn’t work that way. Seldom are circumstances perfect for pursuing our dreams or our goals. There are almost always barriers in our way. But highlighting these barriers is a convenient way to avoid taking risk. The precise risk varies for each of us – for some it is fear of failure while for others it maybe fear of success. But whatever the reason, claiming that all is not perfect is a great sounding way to not proceed.
While this strategy is effective, it has its downsides. For one, it means we will limit our chances to achieve what we want. But perhaps even more importantly we deny ourselves the joy of the journey.
It may sound trite, but much of the fun in getting somewhere, whether a place or a goal, can be in the trip along the way. Maybe you have grand ideas about a major career change, a switch from “just a job” to a passion. But what stops you? You don’t have all of the money saved up, it is hard to get into that school, and besides, look how old you’ll be when you get done. Better to not start, right?
But why not? Why not take a small first step…and then another? Sure, you may not be on the fast track to the specific outcome, but it is your passion! Enjoy the trip there. What about shadowing someone else for an hour, a day, a week? What about volunteering? Or taking one or two classes without enrolling in the all out degree program.
These steps in the journey can be fun, rewarding and memorable. They become part of claiming your passion. When we focus on the journey, amazing things can happen. Opportunities often appear that might have been missed in our haste to the goal. And sometimes we learn more about ourselves and discover new passions along the way.
I’m reminded about a young woman I knew. She was in grad school, getting her Masters in Education. She was passionate about getting her degree and working with elementary students. She lived and breathed children. But as life does, it had other plans. She was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. After surgery she spent months getting experimental chemo treatments. Continuing in school or working as a teacher was impossible.
Adding to her stress of this horrific disease was her sadness about not being able to pursue her passion. She missed working with children desperately. Someone made a suggestion to her. True she couldn’t pursue her passion in the way she had originally imagined. But how about pursuing it in a different way? At the hospital where she spent most of her days with chemo treatment there was a children’s cancer ward. Those children were missing school and falling further and further behind. What if she tutored them while at the hospital?
And she did. She loved it. She made incredible friends with children, with parents. And she followed her passion. This was a part of her journey she could never have imagined. And in the midst of such terribleness, there was joy.
Don’t let fear of perceived barriers prevent you from pursuing your passion or achieving your goals. Instead of deciding you want to be a veterinarian, decide to become a veterinarian…and enjoy the process of becoming. Take the first step. It means you are one step closer.