It really hit home while I was reading Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcom Gladwell. It's a great book which I recommend to anyone as it has lots of examples of real people and the circumstances surrounding their achievement of "success" or not. I use quotations around success because I tend to balk at North American's cultural view of it. I don't necessarily want what most people equate with success but it is a word I have used. In fact I believe that in my high school yearbook I wrote that my goals in life were to be successful and happy. Man, could I have been more vague? But really what does a 17 year-old know about life goals...anyway. The basic formula that Gladwell put forth in his book is that one does not achieve a mastery of any skill without devoting a minimum of 10,000 hours to it.
Back through my life I drifted thinking of the many times I did not practice the self-discipline one needs to master something. Excuses, diversions, I had many. I see them as the result of a rather sheltered life of security and ease. Certainly no one's fault and I'm not complaining about having a good life but that I lacked a drive to push me beyond that comfort. My dreams were important but I was not compelled to work more, do more, to risk my status quo.
Confronting this in the mirror has been good for me. It has allowed my carefully constructed view of my limitations to blow wide open. Resentments I harboured towards the achievements of others were put into perspective: I should have worked harder. Boxes I put myself into broke around me: I'm bad at math. Actually I just didn't study or try to understand, I'd give up a math problem in a matter of minutes. While those that saw them as a challenge persevered until they got the answer.
I am not holding myself over the coals here and berating my past choices. Instead I'm breaking the chains of my own making that have held me back.
I'll stop there for now and write more next time about what I'm doing about these goals, how I'm changing my patterns, and where the journey is unfolding as I uncover more of these chains.