Motivational speakers will often tell you that you must have a plan to get ahead in life. And I can attest to the fact that having a vision and smart goals is critical for success.
Every now and again however, it may seem that nothing you do is good enough to give you the boost to get ahead. You may have written down your mid and long term plans and worked all the steps to get there, down to detail. Still, there seems to be no breakthrough. Ironically, Murphy’s Law always seems to operate as the dominant trump card during such times.
Whether in business, at work or in your own personal life, I write this message for you who is wondering how much more disappointments you can withstand. Today I want to reaffirm to you that even the most successful people go through such phases which I will call tunnels.
If you have ever driven through a poorly-lit tunnel, you know that the first few minutes are shocking to the senses. You get tempted to slam your breaks because you cannot see ahead very well. Often times, there are no shoulders upon which you can pull your car over to allow you gather your bearings. Your adrenaline levels increase rapidly because you are suddenly aware of the potential danger ahead and the risk you run by choosing to drive on. Still, you cannot stop and must continue to drive on cautiously.
I have had my fair share of such tunnels in life. Many of us fall back on our faith in such difficult times, but it is also advisable to couple that belief with common sense and practicability.
Let me let you in on a secret; the difference between successful people and the not-so-successful is that when going through such tunnels, the former keep their eyes focused on the light ahead.
In the same manner, a ship navigator must be guided by a light beacon in order to weather the storms. The minute you allow yourself to be distracted by the darkness in the tunnel or the storms at sea, you risk crashing into the tunnel wall or getting lost at sea. This signals the beginning of the death of your goals.
So, here are a few practical examples of how to stay focused on the light.
First, you must learn to control your thoughts and steer clear of negative mindsets. It is easy to get pulled into feeling sorry for yourself, and worrying about whether you will ever make it in life. You must crush those thoughts as soon as they surface in your head. The energy that is consumed by such negativity is much more than is required to stay focused on positive goals.
As an example, see how the judicial drama regarding Kadhis courts is distracting us from focusing on civic education and the Constitution review process.
This is also the time to avoid ‘friends’ that rejoice in your failure, or make you question your goals and capabilities. If something doesn’t add value, dump it in the short term and re-evaluate its usefulness later.
Secondly, you must have a mentality of gratitude. You must have heard that song about counting your blessings and naming them one by one. There is no better time to literally sing this song out than in the middle of a storm. What it does, is that it takes your mind off your troubles and in so doing, allows you to run the whole course of your tunnel, dark as it may be.
Thirdly and most importantly, I am of the opinion that there are many ways to skin a rat. Always, and I repeat, always engage a different set of eyes to get a fresh perspective into your problems.
If you are too proud to seek help, you will end up sinking under the weight of your responsibilities. Yet, by sharing your problems, somebody may point you to another direction that still gets you to your destination. Remember that wisdom is not the property of any single individual. You may think yourself very wise, but the experiences of another may become a useful teacher at that point of your life’s journey.
There are many other ways to stay sane during difficult times. What I have shared are my own few practical solutions. They may or may not work for you; still it doesn’t hurt for you to try them out. Share this message with those around you as I have done and acknowledge the wisdom of one of my favourite proverbs: “A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.”