Originally published on Bella Naija.
“Wanting is easy, but trying to be great — well, that’s torturous.” – Philip Seymour Hoffman
Man is the only animal for whom being alive is not enough. It’s our nature to want better for ourselves and become more than we are. The irony is, even with this yearning, few of us act on getting the future we want. Pause and reflect on your actions this week. Did you work towards your dream future or spend each day doing mundane things like eating, sleeping, and hanging on Twitter? I’ll be as bold to say that it should be a sin to dream without acting or be dissatisfied without trying something different. It’s like giving up on happiness without a fight. But don’t quote me on this. Most times, I do just as bad as everyone else.
To motivate myself when I feel stuck, I think of life like a video game with different levels. I constantly remind myself that the goal of the game (and of life) is to get to the ultimate level, win the high score and trophies. I remind myself to stay focused on that because the moment I miss a beat, a dragon slays me and I have to start all over. Learning new ways to attack the dragons is necessary because what got me to level 2 will not get me to level 3, just like in video games.
Most of us, in real life, are stuck in level 1. We have done the same things over and over again for so long, and are wondering why we can’t seem to move forward. It’s time to wake up (!), remind yourself that level 10 is where life gets rosy, and slay all dragons until you get there.
Here are some tips to beat the game:
Break your problems into tiny pieces you can handle
When you think of all you want to accomplish, it might seem like a mountain you can’t ever conquer. But one of my favorite teaching fellows once asked:
Question: How does one eat an elephant? Answer: You have to cut it into tiny pieces and eat it bit by bit.
Granted, you won’t finish it in a day. But eventually, you will.
Pace yourself so you don’t burn out
You’re not in a race. Even if life was one, it would be a marathon, not a 100m dash. It doesn’t matter how slowly you progress, as long as you do progress. There are so many successful people who reached success late in life; JK Rowling, Martha Stewart, Momofuku Ando (he invented instant noodles at age 48). So don’t rush yourself unduly.
Stop comparing your chapter 1 to somebody else’s chapter 20
As Malcolm Gladwell once remarked, “On the road to great achievement, the late bloomer looks like a failure”.
Life is different for everyone. Some of your peers started earlier than you and that’s fine. Celebrities are on their own path and you’re on yours. You can’t compare what they have with what you have.
You can’t play your game and watch your neighbor’s pad at the same time.
Take a risk
Do something you haven’t done before. Learn new game skills. If there’s a gap in the way things are done presently, try to fill it. Challenge the status quo, and be weird and eccentric. Africa is still so far behind because no one is thinking differently, or taking crazy risks. Someone has to step up and change things. Could it be you?
Ask for help
If you’ve tried and nothing seems to work, by all means, stop and ask for help.
Talk to people who have been in your situation. Humbly ask for advice or support, there’s no shame in asking, and there’s much to gain. Show them how far you’ve come and where you got stuck. Chances are, they went through the same thing.
And if all else fails…
Read this post again
I really do believe we can do whatever we set our minds to.
As long as you’re on earth, you haven’t run out of lives yet so keep pushing. See you at level 10!