When we see someone who is successful, or who has achieved something we want to achieve, we usually only pay attention to what happened after the tipping point. We mistake success for being easy because we don’t see everything that led up to the moment when the person first started making progress. It’s easy to ignore the periods of inaction, uncertainty and doubt, and to forget we all have to go through those emotions before the path becomes clear.
If there is something you want that you haven’t taken action to get, it doesn’t mean your time has been wasted. All of the hesitancy and confusion you’ve felt has been part of the process to bring you to where you are right now. Everything that you’ve done has been leading up to this exact moment, when you are poised to tip the scale in a new direction.
Action is overrated – and I say this as a woman of action. I like to get shit done. I like to make decisions to do things and then do them. But there are times when focusing only on action is a limiting perspective. Action with no direction will not take you very far. And if you don’t feel prepared to act, it may be because you need some time to figure out where you want to go.
That’s okay. Don’t forget that even when you’re not acting, you’re building momentum. All of the wavering and missteps is part of processing your values and goals, which is part of walking the path. You are already walking the path.
I started this blog over a year ago, in March of 2010. I didn’t have a clear message or purpose, and I didn’t even know why I was doing it in the first place. I just knew I had something important to say, and I needed to start saying stuff in order to figure out what my message was. I see a lot of now big-name bloggers who started small, but with a crystal clear goal in mind, who made rapid progress in building their audience.
That is definitely not me. I posted an average of once a month for the first year (pathetic by blogging standards). I didn’t change my design from the default WordPress theme until a few months ago. I didn’t know why I was writing, or for whom, or why anyone would want to read my stuff in the first place.
That entire process, though, was an essential, necessary, irrefutable part of the path I had to walk to get where I am right now. A few months ago I began having this inkling of a feeling that something was about to change. I started making small design changes to my site, and then went balls out and learned basic web programming and web design to create the site you see now. I’m no expert, but it’s not too shabby for someone who couldn’t even create a new document in Photoshop about three months ago.
I started researching blogging technique (yes, there is such a thing), and committing myself to posting at least twice a week. This has all been while I’ve been working a pretty tough day job – a little something called residency, which can be so demanding that the governing body of training programs had to mandate work hour restrictions a while back of 80 hours a week and 30 hours in a row max.
Most importantly, though, I’m refining my message. There are a couple reasons why I was put on this planet, and I think one of them is to spread a message that you – yes you, reading right now – can do anything you want to, as long as you make a decision to do it, and start walking the path.
Coming to this realization requires both reflection and self-awareness. You need to know who you are before you know what you want. When you know what you want, you need to ruthlessly, unapologetically, pursue it. There is a time for examination, and then there is a time for action.
Hey readers, what do you want that you’re on the verge of taking a step to achieve? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments.
Photo by h.koppdelaney
I want to do too many things. I’m doing some of them now and hopefully more later on. I have an idea of where I want to get with the ones I’m doing now but I wouldn’t be surprised if I arrive somewhere quite different. And I have no idea how long it will take to get there but it probably will take a long time before I can say that I succeeded.
I found your blog yesterday through my friend Karol’s blog and have spent hours reading some of your posts. Very inspiring to help keep me motivated 🙂
Hey Sebastian, I know exactly what you mean about doing a lot of things – I jump around between a bunch of different interests and sometimes wonder if I’m not dedicating enough time to each one… but I think all of the experience is interesting and the process of learning new stuff is always valuable. What kind of projects are you working on (if you don’t mind me asking)?
When you say Karol do you mean Karol Gadja? I am a huge fan of his blog. Any friend of Karol’s is a friend of mine 🙂
I do web design actually. And I always wanted to be able to work from home and live wherever I want. The past year I’ve been living wherever I want but mostly from savings, so I’m slowly trying to get better at web design stuff so I can get better work. BTW, you’ve done a great job on your site 😉
Another thing I started recently is a music project. I’m recording a short song a week. And I post them online to make sure I commit myself to keep doing it or else I would probably skip a bunch of weeks or stop completely. The purpose is to learn, so they’re not great songs or anything and sound quality is pretty bad so far. The site for it is a work in progress, so maybe when it’s ready I’ll share :p
And I started getting into photography a bit recently (had wanted for a long time, just never had a camera before) and would like to get into video at some point. And I’d probably do something similar to the music project with these as well.
I guess those are the main things. Others would be learning a bunch of random stuff such as languages, juggling, surfing, history, nature stuff, life stuff. And then I hope to have enough time left to see the world, be in nature a lot, try to help make the world a better place, and also spend a lot of time doing nothing.
This morning I was watching videos on TED and the last one I saw reminded me a lot of this post. In general it’s a about a different topic, although in a way related. But it’s the second half that will make sense why I wanted to share it here.
And yes, that Karol 🙂
Thanks for the compliments on my site! I am an amateur designer at best, so that’s great to hear someone with actual experience thinks it works. I’d love to see your music website when it’s ready for public consumption.
I really like that TED talk – thanks for sharing. So true that it’s better to focus on the actions you have control over, rather than the outcome, which is kinda out of your hands. The analogy to a baby learning to walk made me laugh, and realize how ridiculously critical of ourselves we are most of the time.
Joyce Y says
Thank you! That was so encouraging!! *tear* What a nice post!
I love hearing about stories behind success, because like you said, achieving a dream involves putting in a lot of effort and overcoming hardships. I respect successful people usually not just for their innate talent, but more for their hard work and perseverance. I often like to read memoirs by famous successful people for that reason.
What do I want to achieve? Well my biggest goal now is matching well so I can be an intern in a field I love! so basically I’m saying I want to be like you. haha which must be pretty ironic for you since you’re about to sing for us about how intern year sucks. 🙂 but you know what I mean!!
and I really want to develop art, music, and language skills cuz these are all things I really value!
I like your blog messages. 🙂 You’re so amazing! Saving lives by day and still managing to update your blog all the time!
Thanks Joyce! You are going to be a kick-ass intern, and I’m sure you’ll be more positive about it than I am 🙂 I agree that the ability to put your nose to the grindstone is way more admirable that innate talent – talent is overrated if you don’t do anything with it.
Awesome post! Haha I totally get you when you say that “That’s definitely not me” in regards to having a clearcut goal and just plowing your head with a very focused target audience. Sometimes, that kind of approach seems nice, but I’d rather be myself, yes/no?
I must agree with the comment above – saving lives by day and still managing to update an (awesome) blog sure is an amazing feat 🙂
Yeah whenever I read about these bloggers who started their blogs with a whole business plan in mind and then immediately blew up, I feel woefully inadequate. But who’s to say that’s the only way to do things? There’s something to be said for doing things your own way.
Thanks for the compliment on my blog! I don’t know about saving lives, but I try not to do any major damage 🙂
Kelly | Man with Girl Name says
Haha! You’re hilarious. Elana – consider guest posting on Feelgooder. It’s an up and coming blog that’s headed by Darren Rowse… if you have time, think about it! I think you’d be a great match for that content.
Elana, I totally get what you’re saying. I did the same thing with a blog on wordpress[dot]com. Started last year and just played around here and there with it to see what would develop. It turned out that the blog kept me on track to make changes in my life and I ended up identifying what I really wanted to do instead of what I was doing. It’s just like your title says, “Everything You’ve Done So Far Has Been Leading Up To This Point.” Great article!
Thanks Marianne! I think a lot of people start with “play” blogs to get practice and gather momentum before they start the blog that really takes them where they want to go. This is my second blog – I actually briefly had a dating blog (back when I was prolifically dating), but then 2 months into it I met my boyfriend, so there went that idea!
I’m considering to take an important decision for my career – that is, choosing what I would like to do. I am saying that after almost completing a BA in Architecture and – as I listened to Steve Jobs say it many times in his commencement speech – not settling for it until I would find what is truly my passion.
I’ve been thinking about studying something related to the human brain (so you can see what a seamless transition there is between fields), such as Psychiatry or Neurosciences or even Psychology. I know they are not the same thing, but I would like to choose something that combines both scientific subjects and direct understanding/interaction with people.
Studying medicine has never been my thought as a child (I guess I was just scared of blood and the pain people got from injections). For this reason I wanted to ask you – in your pursuit of studying psychiatry – was medicine a necessary bad that you had to overcome? How did you deal with studying 4-6 years of medicine when you knew you wanted to be a psychiatrist?
One last thing – could you tell me more about psychiatry? What is it for you?
I found your blog through your article on Huffington Post and was impressed by your positivity! Stay strong! Thank you for the courage to tell your story! An inspiration for me.
Joaquin Hemeon says
You are my breathing in, I own few blogs and occasionally run out from brand :). “Follow your inclinations with due regard to the policeman round the corner.” by W. Somerset Maugham.