When I was young, long before I spread my wings and left the nest, I had such a clear picture of what the perfect, fairytale life would look like for me on the magical day I was finally able to start living it.
I’d have a wife, kids, and an extraordinary career that fed my soul and lined my pocketbook. I figured I’d be able to step right into this life quite effortlessly and accomplish my life’s ambitions in short order, meticulously dotting all the i’s and crossing all the t’s on my ever growing list of dreams and aspirations. And I’d do it all pitch perfectly, just as I saw so clearly in my mind’s eye. No regrets or remorse, or feeling being anything less than the amazing person I knew myself to be.
I figured I’d be set for life, just as long as I created exactly what I envisioned. Simple. Right? It seemed like such a fail safe strategy.
Alas, the day came that I finally did start living my life and my fairytale dreams quickly turned into stressful self-expectations. I felt indescribable anxiety at the need to grit my teeth and accomplish what I envisioned, or else!
Or else what?
Instead of realizing the vision in my mind, most days found me feeling further and further off track. Frustrated and sad, the fairytale life I’d concocted in my head gave way to grim reality.
Would this dark frustration with not being able to achieve my life exactly as planned plague the rest of my life?
The answer to this question that vexed me has luckily turned out to be no.
As I’ve matured, I have discovered time and time again that success doesn’t need to be “perfect” in order to be fulfilling, joyful or magical.
And yet, it’s so easy for me to revert to thinking that I must do something exceedingly well in order to do it all. This is why I pat myself on the back when I challenge myself to do something I’m pretty confident that I won’t be good at. Like, at all.
A few months ago, I had the opportunity to go bowling with an amazing group of people and I eagerly said, “Yes!”. I won’t bore you with details but the smiles on the faces in the below photograph is a great representation of the result.
My endless visions of what my perfect life SHOULD BE didn’t turn out to be the life I have the opportunity to live. My days have been saved by things like bowling exceedingly imperfect games and having a blast doing it, moving forward with my head held high.
Yes, I’m finding that real life can make for far better fairytales than endless daydreams ever could.
JASON FREEMAN is a Professional Speaker and the proud owner of a Speech Impediment. He is also the author of “Awkwardly Awesome: Embracing My Imperfect Best” and a Perseverance Coach.
He excites and encourages his audience to break through the barriers of their own limitations using a method he created, called “Doing your Imperfect Best ™”.
His Imperfect TEDx Talk can be viewed here.