Live Your Best Lesson 4: Cease Striving
Perseverance can sound easy—just don’t quit. Well, not so much. There are times when we do need to quit things, thoughts, or even people who are no longer working for us. We need to push out or just let go of what’s burdening our lives. These aren’t rash, random actions, but rather careful considerations. What can I still do, what do I truly need to do, what must remain in my life, what can be let go? All with the goal of weeding out the unnecessary and bringing a sense of calm to our lives.
An important part of achieving such simplicity is the ability to cease striving. As Tim Jr. and I learned in leg three of The Amazing Race Canada, striving is a destructive mindset. It can mean a panicked, irrational response to circumstances, a “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead” approach with no thought of the consequences. That may make for great movies, but in real life it’s seldom a good course.
To adopt a “cease striving” attitude doesn’t mean that we no longer set goals or have a burning desire to succeed. It comes down to controlling those things that we can control. It’s focused, deliberate action that takes into account the reality of our personal abilities. Parkinson’s is profoundly adept at pointing out my limits, and I dare say that this can be a good thing: I can assess what I can and can’t do and concentrate on the former. Have you ever wished someone would just tell you which way to turn or what decision to make? How many times have I wished I could still run home to Mom and Dad and have them guide me? Well, in a sense that’s exactly what I have with Parkinson’s. I may not always like what I hear, but the instructions are clear. Then I have the freedom to choose how I move forward. There is freedom of choice, there is control; it just doesn’t always look the way I thought it would.
I’ve always been a little fascinated by those who seem fixated on youth, who strive not to age—those who maybe receive one facelift too many or one tummy tuck too far. Why don’t they simply accept life for what it is? We all age; we just don’t have to get old! But then I’m reminded of my early response to Parkinson’s: I was adamant that it wouldn’t put limits on my life. No disease was going to tell me what I could or couldn’t do. I was in charge! Well, as they say, good luck with that. It’s not an easy thing for me to do, but it’s ultimately more satisfying to cease striving, accept my reality with Parkinson’s, and live my best. And not only is it more satisfying but I end up accomplishing a lot, too.
This blog post is an excerpt from the book
Perseverance: The Seven Skills You Need to Survive, Thrive, and Accomplish More Than You Ever Imagined.
Order your copy of the book.