No matter what.
It was the end of a big week and I thought the boys and I deserved a nice dinner out to celebrate. And also there was no food in the house.
Particularly, I wanted to thank the boys for having been so understanding as I have been working through most of the school holidays, and as a result, we hadn’t done anything fun. Overall, the boys are incredibly supportive of my schedule. But they are after all, still kids and vacation care had not been as exciting as say, a holiday in Fiji.
So as we waited for our teriyaki chicken bowls to arrive, I thanked them again for having allowed me a week of focus and reminded them that their help was a valuable part of moving the family towards our goals. Weary nods all around. They got it, but they needed more inspiration. So I decided we would play a game.
I reached for some empty cups and rolled up the dinner docket into a little paper ball. I turned all the paper cups upside down and showed the boys as I hid the little ball under one of them.
I then shuffled the cups randomly, sliding them quickly around the table as the boys tried to keep up with their eyes. Each time I stopped, they had to guess and point to the cup hiding the little paper treasure.
They got better and better each time… four pairs of eyes tracking the cup containing the paper carefully as I tried to confuse them. Our food finally arrived and the giggles died down. I asked the boys to consider a question carefully- what had they done to pick the winning cup each time?
Their answer: We just had to keep our eye on it, no matter what.
In the light of the week that we had just had, I smiled and pointed out to the boys that life is no different. Once you know what you want, you just have to keep your eye on it, no matter what.
Setting a goal is not enough. You can set a goal, but then spend your time focusing on how hard it seems to achieve, how inadequate you feel and the stories you'll tell yourself when it doesn't happen…
So you haven’t actually set a goal. You just set yourself a disappointment.
Just like the upside down cups, in life, we usually get what we focus on. Setting a goal, is only the first part. Keeping your eyes fixed on it, is the real key.
Our week had been a busy one. It had felt like a whole lot of moving cups. Busy, crazy and upside down. It’s easy to get tired and discouraged when you’re chasing something.
Unless you know exactly WHY. Life is an adventure of shifting treasures. Whether you’re going for a place on the soccer team, a promotion, or a pretty girl- it’s in our nature to goal set.
Sadly, as time goes on (and we miss some targets), we can find ourselves adopting mechanisms in order to avoid the pain of disappointment. We offer ourselves lies and distractions, diluting the things that we really want in order to dull the pain of not having them.
But vulnerability can be a gift: it’s alright to want something so badly, that it hurts not to have it. Far from being a weakness, desire is a position of power. I handed each of the boys their cups, as I summarised our little game with big lessons.
Don’t be afraid to keep your eyes locked on what you want. Be brave even, to tease yourself with daydreams, affirmations and hope. You can’t chase what you can’t see. The life you want won’t come to you by accident.
It’s a choice of focus; and what you focus on, is in your hands.