life heuristics, motivation

Breaking Boundaries

“We often make the mistake of giving up before we really, truly, begin.” ~Anonymous

Daniel Bell (AUS) action reflections Swimming 2000 Sydney PG

Today I swam 3 kilometers. I never thought that I could do it, or even that it was within the scope of things of which was available to me. Now after the experience, I’m forced to come back and look at other aspects of my life where I’ve demarcated realms of possibility and impossibility.

Goal setting is important. But sometimes the slow progress that you make through the journey to your goal is deceiving – for example, when we set out to swim 10 laps, the first and the second and third seem like an eternity, and there are yet so many to go, but suddenly you’re at four, and five and halfway there. A few more and you have made it over the halfway hump and it’s now an accelerating rush, as you surge closer to your goal.

My old mentor at Brown, Keith Thompson, once told me something that I thought was remarkably simple and insightful. Essentially, the goals that we set ourselves are also limits or boundaries on the things that were willing to push ourselves to do – when he runs or reads a book he doesn’t say “I’m going to stop at page so-and-so or by that landmark there”, because once you do as you approach a landmark case begins the slow any check more quickly about your progress.

Rather his internal dialogue goes something more like “I’m going to try to make it to that point, and then will reevaluate my progress”. Something so simple as not having a definite end in mind, so allows you to keep pushing in a way that he couldn’t after a supposedly resolution.

Which brings us to one of the age-old questions – what would you do if it was not impossible? …. And how do you know for certain that it is?


One thought on “Breaking Boundaries

  1. Pingback: How to do Hard Things Pt. 2: Going Super Saiyan | Aut insanit homo, aut versus facit

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