In an annual performance review and goal setting meeting, one of my best managers to date told me that I should set goals for myself that give me an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. She explained that otherwise, you aren’t really challenging yourself. A goal is something to strive for, something you don’t know if you can actually achieve; otherwise, you might as well write it on your to-do list and call it a task or action item. The goal, and the process of trying to accomplish it, is more likely to facilitate growth if it feels uncomfortable and unattainable in the beginning. That conversation made me nauseous.
The advice was given to me in an office setting and the context was professional, but I’ve found it applicable in almost every area of my life: the people I meet, the food I try, the places I see, the activities I enjoy. Now, as I maneuver through this life, I try to be less scared of failing. Actually, let me rephrase that. I try to not let the fear of failure (or the unknown) paralyze me.
I don’t want to live in a constant comfort zone. I want to push myself in every possible direction. This is part of the reason why I decided to try to run a half-marathon and later a full marathon. I didn’t really know if I could do it. And I was reeeeeeeeally scared to try. What if I couldn’t do it? I used to tear up on training runs when I would picture crossing the finish line. When I actually crossed them, the feeling of pride and accomplishment was incomparable and the lessons learned along the way were invaluable.
A couple months ago when I started my new job, I agreed to speak at seminars or conferences, should a relevant opportunity come up. Subconsciously my fingers were crossed that it would take a reeeeeeeeally long time for a relevant opportunity to present itself, like maybe never. No such luck! I just accepted an invitation to be a presenter at a seminar in August. I’ll be publicly speaking, advising entrepreneurs in the health care industry.
Pass me the trash can, I think I’m going to be sick.