3 questions, then I can do it

ICDI a

If you are female, and living in the twenty-first century, you can’t have avoided seeing this inspirational phrase. Indeed, you may have it in your planner, or on your wall, more than likely printed in a calligraphy-style font, quite possibly in minimal black on white, or in rose-gold with some marbling if you’ve gone for more bling. It is a quote which is designed to motivate us and to stop us cowering within our comfort zone and I can see the appeal. However for it to be truly relevant I believe that it needs to be preceded by three very important questions.

ICDI b

As a standalone phrase, “I can do it” is very nebulous, and in reality it may be preferable to interpret the words as meaningĀ “I can do anything I put my mind to”. In order put our minds to anything, we first have to determine exactly what it is. If we fall into the trap of believing we can do anything at all, but don’t decide on specific things to actually do, then we will just sit on a sofa forever (which, if I am honest, is one of the few things about which I can honestly say “I can do it”).

ICDI c

It is entirely probable that each of us can achieve anything we truly set our minds to, but we won’t do things if we do not have sufficient desire to do them. If we are not entirely honest with ourselves we will be able to come up with endless perfectly believable reasons why things are not going to plan and we are not reaching our objectives, but we need to see past those and question whether we really want to do what we are working towards. I have found that self-knowledge is hugely important when it comes time to set goals. I have to understand myself and what I really want to achieve; what makes me happy, or sad, or angry; what I can live with and live without. With a good understanding of myself and my motivations, I can look at the ideas my mind spawns and judge them not simply as to whether they are ‘good’ or ‘bad’, but whether they are something I really want to do.

ICDI d

The “I can do it” quote is not all alone in the universe, many of us also know the one that goes along the lines of “Good enough is done” – it is often recommended as an antidote for perfectionism. This is sound advice if you struggle with completing things because you are judging the results by unfeasibly high standards. This one always rings a little hollow with me, perhaps because I belong to a generation raised with the idea of achieving the best we possibly can. I know that it is not good for my soul if I feel I am are consistently submitting work that falls short of my best. Hand-in-hand with this goes my attitude that there is no point expending my energy on things that I am not ever going to be particularly good at. Naturally, how well I need to do a thing depends on the level to which I want to pursue it; I am an average swimmer and that is fine, but my standards for the things I do professionally are much higher becauseĀ I want to be proud of my achievements and not feel that I am simply coasting along doing a “good enough” job.

So, here’s my take on “I can do it”:

21-06-19 ICDI d

Word of the Week – Persevere

13-05-19 Persevere

Here in Norfolk, as in a lot of the United Kingdom, last week was chilly and wet and decidedly un-spring-like. In tandem with the blossom on the trees, and the seedlings in the ground, we humans had to practice perseverance to get us through to the brighter weather and slightly higher temperatures that we are now enjoying.

Life is like that, too. Sometimes it is dreary and grey and there is an unpleasant chill in our hearts. We are not sure where we want to be, or what we want to be doing; perhaps we are not even sure who we are. The central character in my nascent novel (nascent may have to be a Word of the Week one of these old days) is in just that state and it is my job to get her from there to a more pleasant position by the end of the book. Or not. Perhaps she is doomed never to find her place; perhaps some people never do. However, whether we find our place or not, we must persevere because where there is life, there is hope.

I like to see perseverance as more positive than doggedness or grim determination. Perseverance is getting the bit between your teeth, it has an edge of self-motivation in it. I like perseverance, and yet I am absolutely rubbish at it. Are you good at perseverance?