Master This Balancing Act to Reach Your Goals
And how not to lose your mind in the process
These days, everyone has an opinion about what it takes to succeed.
You must be enjoying the journey but see ten steps ahead. Tell everyone or tell no one. Be happy where you are but aim for the sky.
It is as though the world is telling us: You must do what you are doing well, and also start doing what you haven’t yet. At the same time.
All the conflicting information is confusing, overwhelming, and exhausting.
For a while, I allowed myself to be sucked into the spin-cycle of productivity advice. I worked my butt off for days, stressing about how fast I would get to the next step. Inevitably I got burned out and realized that the work I had done was rushed and passionless.
I soon realized that I was completely forgetting about one of my core values: balance.
It was then I decided to switch up my method. I sought the next step… but only after doing the current step right.
When I finally discovered that I could find peace in where I was in my process, rather than constantly rushing and pushing myself to start the next thing, my work improved. I was less stressed and less overwhelmed. And I started reaching each goal faster.
In order to succeed and stay sane in the process, you must learn the delicate balance between being happy where you are and seeking to move to the next step. The two can coexist; it’s up to your perspective and mindset to make it happen.
What does this balance require?
There are a few pillars on which this delicate equilibrium rests.
Mindfulness is key here. It can be tempting to get caught up in a race or compare yourself to others who are a few (or many) steps ahead of you. But it isn’t necessary. You are where you are. Enjoy it, and trust that in time you will reach where you want to be.
This goes hand in hand with patience. You must be grateful for what you’ve accomplished so far and truly appreciate it. This is a skill you can cultivate only through repetition until it becomes a habit.
Do this by taking a few moments a day to “practice” gratitude — whether this is through meditation, talking to someone, or writing down a few things you’re grateful for before bed. It might not feel genuine at first, but in time your mind will get used to experiencing gratitude on a regular basis, and it will become woven into the fabric of your mental habits.
You can assess other people’s moves. You can analyze how they got to where they are. You can let their journey inspire yours. But the moment you begin comparing your accomplishments to someone else’s, you shoot yourself in the foot. Your confidence lags, and without the belief that you are fully capable of reaching your goals, your motivation will not be able to sustain itself.
It can be easy to get caught up in the next steps you have to take. This is where focus comes in handy. Put all your energy and attention in the step you’re on. Don’t let your focus stray too much to the next step until you’ve finished what you’re doing thoroughly.
What gifts will you receive?
Ever since I starting working on the above, I started noticing positive changes. Here’s what balance brought me:
I complete tasks correctly and competently
I put all of my energy and attention into what I’m doing rather than the next two or three steps. I don’t rush to move to the next thing. This means I make fewer mistakes and create better quality content overall.
I am prepared and ready for each next step
It can be quite frustrating to arrive at a step in your journey and realize you aren’t adequately prepared for it yet. Each step has a purpose, and you should absorb as much information and experience as you can before moving on.
I stay sane
I’m not pushing myself to move too far or too fast. I don’t beat myself up for not getting things done because I trust I have enough time for everything I want to accomplish. This also means that I rarely fall subject to burnout.
I remain grounded
It can be easy to get caught up in money, power, or success — especially growing up in Western countries. We are taught that material wealth or holding the top position in a field is the be-all-end-all.
Obviously I want to live comfortably, but I don’t want my passion to become all about profit. Being mindful of where I am and appreciating each step helps me remain grounded in my values rather than get caught up in the rush of accomplishment. In other words, I do things my way.
Balance is not impossible to learn. It is not even difficult. On the contrary — it feels completely natural. It takes the pressure off. Giving yourself time and space to learn and grow with your aspirations feels like freedom. You’ll thank yourself as you approach your goals with open arms, a smile, and a clear head.