I’ve recently read Michael Cain’s Blowing the Bloody Doors Off, it’s a great book, if you’re a theatre and film buff it’s a great read, not only for his life story but also his clear depiction of the difference between film and theatre, cinematic acting and traditional and classic. It’s just a bloody brilliant read. A message he sends in it is really clear for me though, a life lesson that really resonates.
He talks about never stopping learning your craft, never stop training and developing your skills in your vocation. However, I want to take this further, beyond work and career paths, I believe you should never stop working on yourself, ever. I know this and think it’s important because I did once and it made me miserable.
The fact is, life has ups and downs, in every aspect of your life you will come across stumbling blocks and tough times. You’ll face adversity and it’s usually during those times that you have to dig deep, reflect on yourself and start learning some important lessons about yourself and how you handle a situation. Then though, we often stop, we reach the point of success or overcoming our issue and then let go of what we put in place to reach that goal. But it’s like anything, if you stop practising it then you lose that ability, you get out of practice and need to develop it again.
Let’s use my running as an example, I used to love it and was pretty good at it, then I stopped going as often, then my training went, I wasn’t able to run as far for as long or as quickly, so then I started to get frustrated, I went even less and then before I knew it I wasn’t going at all anymore. Fast forward 10-12years and I’m banging on about missing it and start again from scratch, it was tough going but now I’m back into going 3 or 4 times a week and even smashing my PB. Great eh? Would’ve been even better if I hadn’t quit in the first place. And why did I quit? I mean I’d only really started running after finishing uni and coming back from some epic travelling experiences…you see whilst travelling my fitness took a hit, I was no longer in full time dance training and was loving life back packing, so I returned to a career in dance and normal life so took it up as a hobby. Then for various reasons was discouraged and made other things a priority and suddenly lost something I loved so much. If I hadn’t have stopped though then I wouldn’t have lost my ability or enthusiasm for it.
It’s the same with anything. When I went through some of the toughest of times I sought out the support of a counsellor, I had my weekly appointments which as I got better became fortnightly, then monthly and then just as and when I felt I needed to touch base with her. Now, at first read that might sound like I also gave that up, but in actual fact I didn’t, yes ok the sessions reduced and ceased, but the tricks and tools I learnt through them I kept practising in order to keep my negative thoughts and emotions as bay. I learnt how to mange things, so much so that I didn’t even need to call upon her when I left my marriage. In fact, it was because of the tricks and tools my counsellor taught me that I was able to walk away. Brutal honesty, I still have to use what she taught me now, but why I am actually saying brutal honesty? It should be a given that you keep working to improve yourself and using positive coping mechanisms for when life gets tough.
It’s like anything, I mean how many people do you hear joining weight watchers, slimming world, the gym, or whatever only to quit once they’ve reached their goal, put it all back on again and re-join as a New Year’s resolution or post holiday binge, why quit? You’ve got to keep working on yourself. We focus to much on end goals and getting to a key point and not enough on then continuing the hard work that got us there. As if happiness and success is measured on reaching the end result, rather than them being a way of life that is maintained and continually developed permanently over long periods of time.
People work at relationships and marriages in the early stages on during rough patches, but actually keep working on them all the time. You learn about your new partner in the early days, but actually you should never stop learning about them because as time goes on we grow as people and those around us, friends, spouses, family members should grow too, learning about how we’re becoming a newer, better and different version of ourselves, and actually that may mean losing some people along the way as they too alter over time. Relationships shouldn’t have an end goal, they’re a journey that you go through on and on and on. Don’t just work on them when they reach a testing time, otherwise you’ll only reach another one further down the line.
You’ve got to keep working on yourself. There’s so much in the media and hyped up about mental health and that it’s ok not to be ok. Well, actually it isn’t, it’s ok to admit you’re not ok and that you need help, but actually not being ok isn’t but what is ok is taking the time to work on yourself and improve so that you can reach a level of ok. But we don’t teach that enough, we don’t focus enough on forming good mental health habits that are permanent features in our lives, we don’t focus enough on continually working on ourselves to be better. We don’t focus enough on journeys but rather the getting to an end point.
Never stop working on yourself because that’s the fun point, that’s the good stuff and that’s what you should enjoy the most about anything.