Does It Serve You?


October 26, 2017

These last few days I’ve been frustrated with myself, feeling like I don’t put a big enough dent in anything. Three years later, I still suck at jiu jitsu. A month into yet another work out program, I have lost exactly zero pounds and feel no faster, no stronger. My book I started years ago? Yep, it’s still not done. All that effort I had intended to spend at the easel, with a pen, with a pencil, with a brush — effort that I wanted to produce better artwork in anticipation of maybe adding a completely new skill set to my income— had been spent on other things. I see hurt and need all around, and it reminds me how painfully little I do to ameliorate any of that load. Too many dogs need saving. Too many hearts needs loving. To many mouths need feeding. And here I sit, pissing in the wind.

I get this way sometimes, usually when I “fail” at a something I’ve chosen to undertake. Today, though, I realized (remembered?) that when I learn from an experience, it cannot be deemed a failure.

I have five more workouts to complete that Pathfinder program I wrote about in my last post. Mind you, they’re hefty workouts, and they would require at least 12 hours of my time over the next six days. To complicate things further, I work twelve hour shifts three of those days. Had I not felt like I had been hit by a Mac truck after rucking those 15 miles last Saturday night, I would have had more time, but my body just wasn’t ready to even think about what was required of it until today. Even now, I’m only trucking at about 85%. But I could do it. I could make it happen. For most of my 44 years, I would have, come hell or high water, battered hips or broken back, because I had said that I would. The thought that I might not be able to finish it if I didn’t recover quickly enough had rankled me all week. Then I woke up with (mostly) painless joints this morning, and I had a choice.

I thought about the weather perfect for rucking and the satisfaction of finishing something I had set out to complete. And I thought about the twelve hours that winding the requirements up would demand, the novel I really want to finish, the blog post I needed to write, the painting I wanted to do, the house I needed to clean (because my psyche needs for it to be cleaned).
A while back I read Danielle LaPorte’s The Desire Map and went through its workbook. If you haven’t checked it out, you should consider it because it presents the idea of looking at goals from an altogether different perspective. In it LaPorte talks about looking at our goals as ways that we want to feel, not things we want to have or accomplish. She talks about looking at our choices as things that can either bring us closer to that way we want to feel or further from it.
In my mind, I went back to that book this morning, and I asked myself why I had chosen to do the Pathfinder program, what I wanted from it, what I wanted from life in general, and what served me and my desires most. I realized that what I had wanted from the program was to be stronger, to have better endurance, maybe to lose some pounds, and to see if I was truly interested in doing what was necessary to prepare for a GORUCK event — because I’d really like to be the kind of mentally and physically tough, resilient person who can do a that sort of thing. I realized that I already understood that putting in as many miles as is necessary to train for one of those events takes way too much away from all those other things I want to do and be, and that five more workouts wasn’t going to change the other things I had wanted from the program.

Finishing Pathfinder doesn’t serve me now. It isn’t going to bring me any closer to the things that keep me awake at night. Those twelve hours that finishing it would require, though, they could provide me with a great deal of time to accomplish some of them. For instance, in the two hours it would have taken me to complete one of the shorter workouts this afternoon, I have written this post. One task down, and I still have a full ten hours to play with.

I think it’s time to read The Desire Map again and recalibrate. It’s time to home in on the things that serve me, so I might better serve the world.

Lesson learned.


This story and all related material are the original works of Estora Adams. All rights reserved.