There is a belief that being good enough is settling for less than your full potential. I say that is not entirely true. While there are many moments in my life where I desired more, I found myself constantly feeling like I wasn’t “there yet.” I started to wish for things to be better than they were. I began sentences with “I can’t wait for…” and the ending was always about big life moments, not just a dinner party with friends coming up on the calendar. Instead of loving the moments I was in, I found myself longing for the moments that may happen years from now, with different circumstances and perhaps other people and places.
But what happens when we wish away the present in order to find more of what we don’t have? We actually miss out on the things we have now. We think our lives will be better “someday.” That’s the same “someday” that we talk about when we think about losing the weight, or getting back to the gym, or going back to school, or falling in love, or landing the job of our dreams. And then we start in with “I can’t, I am too…..” “I am not … enough.” Fill in the blanks, I am sure, like me, you have said all of this. There comes a time to just stop saying it.
I was working with a very strong Junior Olympic swimmer not too long ago. In one specific conversation, I wanted to get a feel for where she was in her mind as a swimmer. I have seen her swim and I knew her potential, as did everyone else around her. I was wondering if she had a clue as to how good she really was. I asked her what her goals were and where she wanted to go in the next few years. She laughed. She then just shook her head. “No, no…. you aren’t getting me to commit to something I am not sure of.” I smiled and asked what she meant by that.
“I know that I need to have something to reach for, a goal of some sort. But if I set a goal and achieve it then I just have to change it anyway… or if I don’t achieve it then I am disappointed. And what if I am better than I think I am? I set a goal that is too small and I end up limiting myself to that because that’s all I think I am good enough for. What then?”
I asked her back…”Ok Sam…. You tell me…what then?”
She looked at me again and said, “Well… how about this…How about I just go out everyday and give my 100%? Because that is really the only thing I control anyway. You always tell me, if I take care of the process, the outcome will take care of itself. So if I just focus on today, this moment, I think I have that covered.”
In that moment I realized she got it.
We worry too much, too often about not getting it right. We focus on the wrong things, setting goals that maybe don’t serve us, setting them too high to reach for or setting them way too low to devalue our abilities. We send the wrong message… to ourselves and those around us. We say it’s ok to settle because everyone does it. Or we say it doesn’t matter. We can adjust… The goal or the disappointment, or the fear or the joy. We can change our viewpoint or the idea of success we have been told is what we need to live for. We can teach others about the bar we set and whether it’s too high or too low. We adjust it constantly. We help others do the same.
And as the idea of our self-limiting beliefs now become our story, we buy into it and we live it out. And it’s all we know.
So then what? We constantly look for those around us to validate our failures and pick us up and dust us off when needed, hoping that in those moments they don’t judge where we are and who we have become. And we worry about what just happened or what may happen. We focus in the wrong places. Or we constantly look around for those to cheer for us when we do succeed or to give us the pat on the back when we need to feel worthy.
And then what?
Nothing really changes. We still go on and set new goals or lower ones we already had.
Instead, perhaps we should just listen to Sam and be present. In the right here and the now.
Because the truth is, no matter where you set the goal, you are always enough.