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When good enough is good enough

Steps to Success

Question: What do you call the Med Student that graduates at the bottom of the class?

Answer: Doctor.

Sorting through some papers on my perpetually untidy desk recently, I unearthed something written almost a year ago. It was my list of aims and intentions for 2013. It seems that time has flown extraordinarily quickly since penning it and I can hardly believe it is almost time to repeat the exercise for next year. Its discovery brought several things to my awareness.

1. I need to be a bit more organised.

2. Having essentially lost this list for the past eight months, the fact that several goals were successful goes to support personal development guru, Brian Tracy's assertion that, “Committing your goals to paper increases the likelihood of your achieving them by one thousand percent!” – even if you lose them.

3. That I, like so many of us, am quick to jump at any opportunity to beat ourselves up.

Looking at my list of nine goals, I can tick off four and two thirds of them and scratch two of the others that became redundant due to change in circumstances.

Which leaves 2 (and a bit) unaddressed.

My immediate reaction?

To go into a negative spin over the things I haven't done — seeing only the holes, where I didn't measure up to my own expectation. Focusing on these minority seems to blanch and discount all that I did do and achieve, and takes me to that all too familiar, habitually dissatisfied place of not feeling ‘enough'.

As if by cosmic intervention, I received an e-mail from Christine Arylo, a US-based coach whose work concentrates on self-love, sharing a useful tool for dealing with this very issue. It's a written exercise that I invite you to try. It is perfect for this time of year and I personally found it very restorative.

Part 1. Draw the trunk of a tree on a piece of blank paper, with eight branches growing out of it (this is not art class, just stick lines will do). In the middle of the trunk write the words, “I have created and done ENOUGH this year”.

Then take time to review the past eleven months and on each branch, write down things you've done, progress you've made, challenges you've faced and can be proud of. Perhaps you've been taking a course, or have been consistently doing some exercise or health regime, or got a new job, or worked on an interesting project, or navigated a break-up or a new relationship, did something creative … They may not all be earth-shattering, one of mine is “read some good books and had inspiring conversations”. As long as it means something to you.

I feared I wouldn't be able to fill a list of eight, but once I started looking, I ended up thinking of ten, and they went far beyond my original list of what I'd intended to do this year. Create more branches if you need to. Record all that you have achieved to make a difference in yours and other people's lives in 2013.

When you have your abundant tree with fruitful branches, look over all that you've accomplished and breathe deeply into that satisfaction. Then take a moment to write down at the roots: “And my heart and soul would still like to …” and list three things that are important to you, that you would like to do for yourself in the coming future.

Christine Arylo emphasises in her work that our sense of self-love does not come solely from what we do, but more so from who we are.

Part 2. On the reverse of your sheet of paper, write in the centre the words “I AM ENOUGH … I value who I have become this year” Create three tendrils extending from this and on each one, note down what your year's challenges, endeavours and actions have helped shaped you into — who you now are. Mine are: Braver, More forgiving and More aware. Who are you?

Create a final offshoot and write, “because of all I have become, I have received …” and list three things, tangible or otherwise, that have been the positive by-product of your personal growth over the past year, be it a better relationship with someone, a new way of dealing with or seeing something, greater awareness in an area … or otherwise.

Giving myself time to reflect on and record these things, I found a surprising amount of positive progress to be proud of and a deep sense of peace recognising that, despite whatever remains outstanding on my ‘to do' list, that I am enough, right here, right now.

This may sound somewhat contradictory, coming from a Success Coach where a part of my job is helping people identify and achieve their goals. But this work would be unbalanced if it didn't first address developing happiness — that underlying desire most of us hold.

If we are only pursuing checklists, like my Aims and Intentions for 2013, as a way of trying to attain that happiness, or using our achievements (or lack thereof) as a measure of ourselves (feeling ‘not good enough' if we fall short), then the goals we set are actually counteracting what we fundamentally and ultimately seek.

Dr. Robert Holden, author of “Be Happy” (HayHouse, 2009) who I have raved about before, writes that, “unless you cultivate an awareness of joy, no amount of pleasure or satisfaction can make you happy.”

Joy, he says, proves difficult to describe but has qualities of constancy (being beyond time and space), creativity, needing no reason, being unaffected by things, with an “abiding sense of enoughness.”

Therefore ‘success' embraces feeling good about ourselves, performing at our personal peak, living with passion, and celebrating who we are and what we have. It is following our joy and utilising the rest as a means to enhance and exemplify that, rather than determine it.

I am enough — even though I only did two out of the three charity fun-runs I had aimed for. I've still got six weeks left of 2013 if I really want to satisfy that goal. As for the rest of the list, I can view them as exciting rollover challenges for next year if I so wish. And along side them I shall be writing: practice more loving self-acceptance, even of my shortcomings, and recognise when good enough, is simply good enough.

Julia Pitt is a trained Success Coach and certified NLP practitioner with Benedict Associates Ltd. Telephone (441) 295-2070 or visit www.juliapittcoaching.com for further information.

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Published November 19, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated November 18, 2013 at 2:53 pm)

When good enough is good enough

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