I used to get really frustrated when things didn’t turn out how I had planned. I have a new idea at least every day, I make plans and I expect things to work perfectly. I expect to write that book in a week, get lots of clients, get fit and lose weight. I thought this was all quite reasonable.
But low and behold, it didn’t all happen! The outcomes didn’t meet my expectations, I was frustrated (after all, I had done my best, I’d worked really hard) and I was so very disappointed. The fact that I had written the opening chapter, taken on a new client and started running again didn’t help with my feelings, I had set my expectation high and hadn’t got there. After all my Dad had always said that ‘if a job’s worth doing its worth doing well’ so I always felt obliged to do better.
I was never really happy, always feeling that I was underachieving. I took up more and more things, expecting to find something, anything, that I could excel at. I was so frustrated and so disappointed in myself. Something had to change, I was wearing myself out.
I began by looking at my expectations. There are, I reasoned, only 24 hours in my day, in any body’s day, however hard I tried, I couldn’t get more hours. Given that limitation I needed to carefully manage how much I could expect to achieve and still have time to think straight. I needed to give myself permission to take a break and to accept that I wasn’t wonder woman. I had to be ‘good enough’.
I sat down and thought about what really mattered and what I wanted to achieve. And then I considered what would happen if I just did my best and let go of the outcome? I would go running but I would go expecting to enjoy it, not to run faster or further than I ever had before. I set a realistic expectation. The next time I went out of the door in my trainers I told myself to simply enjoy the moment, and of course, that is just what happened. I got back, just pleased that I had run and full of the glorious morning.
I tried the same principle on my writing, I decided to write the best I could and to enter the competition that I had seen but to do it for the fun of writing and the experience of polishing and finishing a short story. I really enjoyed it. I might not win, but I accept that and I am not in the least bit frustrated. Nor will I be disappointed if I don’t win, it is what it is and I enjoyed the journey.
I have accepted that I won’t run a marathon or win the Booker prize, but I will still run and write and do the best I can. I will, however, also rest and relax and accept things as they are. And guess what? I am no longer frustrated!