Whatever You Do- Don’t Stare at the Ground!!!

A couple of years ago I finally set a plan to achieve a goal that I set for myself when I was a small child- I would get my motorcycle license and finally get a motorcycle. I knew that I first needed to overcome a small but relevant task first- I needed to learn how to ride a motorcycle. So I took a three-day beginner’s course which would allow me to learn and then get my license. Needless to say, on the first day I was incredible excited (and nervous).

On my first day I did better than I thought. We started with basic tasks like starting the bike, stopping the bike, and learning how to turn the bike from a stopped position. The second day proved to be more challenging but also allowed me to learn a valuable lesson about life which has helped me with my success. We embarked on the perilous exercise of going around curves and making U-turns. My biggest concern, as was also shared by some beginners, was falling. The instructor, a very experienced motorcycle rider and enthusiast, imparted his advice as he instructed the class. He asked us what our goal was in entering a turn. Pretty simple I thought- to make it to the other end. He then asked what we are trying to avoid, which was also self-explanatory- falling to the ground on the bike. The instructor then explained that in order to be successful in making a turn one must focus on the goal, meaning where it is we wanted to end up. This meant focusing on the end of the curve, or at least as far as we could see in the curve. He also explained that the last thing we wanted to do was stare at the ground. He explained that if we focused on where we did not want to be that our body would draw us to that exact point and we would fall. Taking that lesson into account, I put it into practice and sure enough I never fell or even came close.

The lesson I learned that day was something that can be easily translated to life in general. So many times I have approached a situation and have wasted so much time worrying about what will go wrong or even second-guessing myself. I invested so much energy focusing on failure that I essentially set myself up for just that. I am not sure if it was law school that did it to me, but always taking a worse-case scenario approach to everything came so naturally to me. Granted, that approach has proven to be very helpful at times because it has allowed me to anticipate the worst and be prepared. However, always focusing on the negative took a toll on my success planning and more importantly on my vision of success and growth professionally and personally.

As a visual person, I knew that the best way to address this issue was to post reminders of my daily goals as well as my future aspirations. I started with the more traditional approach- a vision board. But I did not approach it the traditional way. I did not cut out pictures and images of where I wanted to be or what I wanted to obtain. Instead my vision board laid out the very specific goals I wanted to accomplish. It is broken down into short-term goals and long-term goals. I made sure to write all of this on huge paper and posted them in my office area at home. I made it a daily practice that every time I worried about falling or feeling overwhelmed or lost, I would stare at the vision board and walk through everything on it. The first thing I study each morning and the last thing I study each night is the board. I would discuss with myself what the goal would look and feel like as well as the necessary daily steps I needed to take in order to achieve it. This would then lead me to make daily notes listing what I needed to accomplish that specific day to get me one step closer to achieving my larger goal. I would literally carry a piece of paper with daily tasks and cross them out as they were achieved. Any remaining tasks were placed on a new list for the following day. Every two weeks I would update and replace the large vision board with new short and long term goals and remove the goals I was able to achieve.

I have followed this routing for several years now. This has kept me constantly focused on my goals. It has constantly kept my envisioning myself navigating through the curve and making it to my destination. While the thought of falling is sometimes present both in my professional life as well as when I ride my motorcycle, I remember that very simple but powerful lesson I randomly learned from that motorcycle instructor.

Focus your time and energy on your goals and there will be no room for doubt or second-guessing. Always envision yourself at the end of the curve.