Oh, wait, that would be me.
Last week I took a day and a half to get away. I ventured west to Milwaukee; just me, myself and I. It was an introvert’s dream. I putzed around a few bookstores while drinking caramel apple cider, went on a photo safari downtown (I’ll post some photos later), and visited the Eisner Museum of Advertising and Design. The most productive thinking time occurred in my hotel room, a good seven hour chunk of time with pizza and Pepsi at my side.
I looked through a few old journals I had packed, prospecting for nuggets of wisdom. Before long, I began what I shall call “reverse journaling.” I’m not sure if this technique has already been “discovered” or if it goes by another, more appropriate name. Basically, as I paged through my old journal, I started re-writing some of the passages that stood out in a new journal. I didn’t add anything, I just transcribed the key phrases word-for-word, as if cementing their importance in the new journal and in my mind. Talk about a lesson in maintaining perspective.
When you set out on a big dream, you encounter many giants — or obstacles — on your road to success. They may take the form of real or imagined challenges (lack of capital, education, contacts) or even personal weaknesses (procrastination, an inability to focus, stage fright). One of the things I have struggled with over the past six years has been financial anxiety. A little bit of that is normal — and dare I say healthy — but I tend to go a little bit overboard, and I think it holds me back sometimes from taking necessary, calculated risks. As I “reverse journaled,” I was blown away by how much my thoughts reinforced the notion that FEAR really is False Evidence Appearing Real. Here is a smattering of overblown, “sound the alarm, the ship is going down” entries from journals past:
“I paid the credit card bill yesterday. Wow. I don’t know how God provided and I don’t know what to do now that there’s only about $150 left in checking.” (February 22, 2002)
“Credit card is due and we don’t have the money to pay it..orders are inconsistent and cash flow continues to be a problem.” (May 5, 2002)
“We’re still running on fumes financially…” (September 25, 2003)
“Bankruptcy looms on the horizon…” (November 10, 2003)
“The other highlight from yesterday was learning that our car insurance doubled thanks to my speeding ticket. Great. Just what I need.” (November 19, 2003)
On and on it continued, the same song, different month. (I especially liked the overly dramatic “Bankruptcy looms on the horizon!”) The interesting thing is, we’re still here. Stronger than ever. Some of the financial crises have been completely forgotten, some never occurred at all. Hopefully, the gold that I am able to take away from all of this is to put this adventure in perspective, and to see how faithful God has been throughout the journey. Honestly, it was a little disheartening to see how little progress I had made through the years (and I seriously debated wether or not I should share them here), but I am using this exercise to arm me for the future and to serve as a reminder that things aren’t really as bad as they may seem.
We all have the capacity to do that. As you persist on the road to your dream, there is little you can do that will serve you better than to slow down and take some time to review where you’ve been. That’s the best way to figure out where to go next, and it’s the best way to avoid going in circles.
I highly recommend “reverse journaling.” I re-read my old journals every so often, but actually re-writing some of the things that stood out really helped me see a concrete theme, giving me a wider, deeper perspective. And the happy ending is that amidst all of the stunted progress I discovered with my journal pages, I took solace in finding a few nuggets of wisdom as well:
“Some days I feel like it will take 100 years before Kim and I make a living at this. But that’s when I forget that God is God, and that the last few years — although seemingly slow in progress — have perhaps given us the most important lessons of the entire journey.” (April 12, 2004)
[tags]journal, journaling, diary, perspective, fear, dreams, God, faith[/tags]