I can’t remember where I read it, and it’s going to haunt me until the day I die, but I once read an excellent piece of advice: look where you’re going. Now, that may sound silly and very obvious, and probably something you’ve heard since you were a child learning how to ride a bike, but it’s true.
If you’re a kid learning how to ride a bike, shaky, wobbly, nervously; if you’re always looking at that ditch next to you, worried you’re going to ride your wobbly bike into the ditch, chances are: you’re going to ride that wobbly bike into the ditch next to you. Where focus goes, energy flows.
I’m not a very good bike rider, as hard as my grandfather tried to teach me, I am still wobbly to this day. I’m not a very good surfer either, as much as I enjoy it, and the reason being my main problem is that I’m always looking down at my feet. I’m looking at my feet, whether they’re in the right position on the board, I’m looking at the front of my board, wondering if it’s going to dunk under because I’m standing too far forward, and I’m looking at the dude next to me, wobbling also, wondering if I’m going to crash into him. What I was not doing, was looking at the beach.
It’s a fantastic moment as a beginner surfer surfing your way into the beach. As a kook, that’s all you want to do. Stand up, and surf into the beach. As you get older and better, your goals might grow a little, but surfing into the beach is the first success of going from being shit, to not being shit at surfing. You will never, never, be able to surf into the beach, if you are not looking where you are going.
If you are constantly worried about failure, and trying your hardest not to fail – you are likely to fail. Instead, you should be focusing on succeeding, following your dreams, chasing that goal, looking at it down the barrel of a shotgun, aiming for that bullseye. If you’re looking left of the target, you’re going to land left.
It’s hard, I know. Myself, a huge worrier, and with an innate belief that I’m subpar at most things I do but with the self-expectation that I am talented and able, failure to me seems like the worst possible outcome. And yes, it’s important to be prepared for failure; to have back-up plans, and to be ready when things go sideways – but you have to trust in what you’re doing, and know that you’ve created a safety net to fall into – if you fall. But if you focus more on the safety net than your destination, you know where you’re going to end up.
If you don’t have a back-up plan – even better. Some might say you’re ill-prepared, but what it looks like to me is that you’re focussed, you have a plan (who needs another one, right?), and you’re dedicated to achieving your goal. You’re looking where you’re going, and most likely, with that attitude, you’ll get there.
Image via Wonderland Autumn 2017