Rule 4

Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today. Rule 4 in Dr. Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules For Life resonates this week, as with the arrival of February I celebrate a personal milestone of sorts.

I’ll get to the milestone in question soon enough, but before I do this particular regulation put forward by the great man begs another question, well, just who was I yesterday? Fucked if I know, to be honest. Come to think of it, there’s very little I do know, and a great deal that I don’t. That realisation is clearer now than ever before. What do any of us know, really, and it’s incredibly disconcerting if you think about it. As is anything, if you think long and hard enough, I suppose.

But, I digress.

It’s something I’ve scribbled once or twice in the past, and it comes up quite often over on WMYT, this notion of appreciating the journey as opposed to being overly focused on the destination. In the most recent interview I asked world-class mindset and performance expert Allistair McCaw if he could give his 16-year-old self a piece of advice, and he had this to say.

Enjoy the journey more. That would be it in one line. Enjoy the journey, because the journey is the destination.

– Allistair McCaw

And I think this ties in nicely with JP’s 4th rule, as it’s often the case that when we start focusing on where we wish to be rather than on the journey itself, we naturally begin to compare ourselves to others who have treaded a similar path.

As I get deep in the writing process, for better or worse, I will eventually allow myself to detach slightly and envision a grand future; I think about what it would feel like to receive some sort of validation for the all-encompassing process of self-actualisation that has gripped every fibre of my being for the past 3 years. I then look to others who have already done it and who are doing it currently, and soon tell myself that there’s no way I can get to that level, and that the mere process of thinking that I can is not only irrational, but downright comical. And so the idea gets pushed back down into the recesses; the serotonin levels drop, and the snooze button gets pressed on one too many a consecutive morning, because why not, and of course the manuscript remains untouched in the drawer. Fuck sake.

But as with every milestone we reach, comes the reminder to glance in the rear-view mirror, to reflect upon the journey, and to look to who we were yesterday, as it were. Almost 3 years to the day, I took the decision to grasp back some element of control. Why? A fair question. To tip the balance back in favour of nourishing influences, and to forsake the poisonous ones, that sounds about right. I noticed that as I started to do so, a wonderful chain reaction began to take shape; I simultaneously unearthed a long-lost passion, which on hindsight perhaps slipped away amidst the stupor (not surprising in the least as I did indeed steal my first sip at a relatively young age, but which was not unheard of for a young, misguided rapscallion growing up in rural Ireland). And so I immediately began to dedicate my newly acquired time and energy towards reigniting the dying embers that lay dormant in the pit of my soul since, well, childhood I suppose.

Has it been worth it? I’m sure it has, but the jury is still out; come back to me in another 3 years. Perhaps then I might have some answers; clueless as ever (didn’t I mention?). There is something to look forward to though as I read Rule 4 again and let the words seep in.

When I focus on myself and that which I can control, and take that as the benchmark from which to progress, it certainly makes things more manageable; when I take my eyes off the Twitter feed and look instead at what I was able to accomplish yesterday, and set out a plan of action for the day ahead on that basis, I start to feel better. I start to feel in control again. Certainly having likeminded people in our inner-circle helps to keep the fires burning; those passionate people doing incredible things, encouraging the best of ourselves to come forth and thrive; our support system. Ah, but in the journey towards inner growth- the catalyst for optimal progression and self-actualisation- you alone can take the wheel.

So whatever it is that drives you, bring it forward; stoke those burning embers and unearth the thing which sets your soul ablaze. Look to the one person who can impact positive lasting change upon the direction in which you’re headed.

You, that is.