Swimming the River of Misery
If you’ve ever set and then achieved an ambitious goal you’ll recognize the below journey:
- This is exciting! I can’t wait to achieve my goal.
I’m learning a lot, this is interesting.
Wow, ok, there’s a lot I don’t know.
This is so hard. / I’m so confused. / I’m not doing it right.
OK, I figured out one thing but this still sucks.
I figured out a couple of things, can I call it a day?
I can almost see where I’m going.
I did it. Woo hoo! I’m so proud of myself.
Steps 4, 5, and 6 are called the River of Misery. And often this where people abandon ship.
If it’s hard I must be doing it wrong.
If I’m confused I must be in the wrong place.
If I’m lost I must not be doing it right.
We’ve been conditioned to avoid pain and seek pleasure. To suppress and turn away from anything that feels bad.
But negative feelings are 50% of life.
They are the data we need to make better decisions.
They’re fuel to propel us in the right direction.
They’re part and parcel of learning something new.
So expect them. Use them. Let them wash over you and keep going.
In my experience, the River of Misery isn’t so bad if you know that it's a step in the process of achieving your big goal.
You’ve just got to stay committed. And keep swimming.