The Importance of Forgiving Yourself

Here’s a frustrating fact of life: you have more desire than you have opportunity to fulfill.

It’s true.

There’s more that you want to do then you’re actually able to do. You can dream all you want, but dreams stay dreams until you take action. And when you take action, you find that your time and abilities can only take you so far.

So what do you do with your unmet desires? How do you respond in the face of the fact that you can’t do it all?

There are too many problems in the world for you to solve them all.

Combine these problems with your dreams of being an astronaut, rock star, and a genetic engineer (maybe that was only my 6th grade self), and you have a recipe for overwhelmed stuck-ness.

I heard an interview with Seth Godin the other day. He was asked about how to choose what to do in the face of such overwhelming challenges in the world. He said something that really hit me:

We need to forgive ourselves for not being perfect so that we can enable ourselves to be good.” – Seth Godin

“Forgive ourselves for not being perfect” feels like such a breath of fresh air. Those are words that I’ve been trying to find to explain what has to happen to go from stuck to unstuck.

Moving forward when you don’t know what to do is usually not about finding the perfect thing to do with your life.

It’s much more complicated than that. If it was about finding the “right answer”, you would have found it by now. No. The movement from stuck to unstuck is deeper. It’s about forgiving yourself for your limitations. It’s about accepting that your work will never be done. And it’s about discovering the joy of choosing— saying yes to one thing and saying no to many many others.


PS- This month is a month of fear-facing and risk-taking at The Meaning Movement. We call it #FearlessFebruary. There are over 100 people building a community and making great things happen. We’d be honored to have you join us. Every day I’m giving my best thoughts on fear and action. This post was one was adapted from one of them. Go here to get started: Fearlessfebruary.com

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4 Comments

  1. Katie Swan February 9, 2015 at 9:53 am

    This is a great reminder for me today Dan. I’m in the process of transitioning into something new. And I’ve been getting overwhelmed by the “50” something news that I want to do. Choosing today to step back, take a deep breath and take a single step forward.

    Reply
    1. Dan February 9, 2015 at 11:00 am

      Thanks Katie! Sometimes a deep breath really helps. Glad you’re making space for yourself before you step forward!

      Reply
  2. Sophie February 16, 2015 at 9:59 pm

    At my new year family gathering, my grandpa told me it’s okay to give 70%. That my fear of not giving 100% would keep me from attempting things at all. And I realized how my perfectionism gets in the way a lot actually and I should be open to giving 70% to start.

    And another quote this post called to mind by David Gerald is, “Half of being smart is knowing what you’re dumb at.”

    Reply
    1. Dan Cumberland February 17, 2015 at 10:26 am

      I love both of these, Sophie! What amazing and wise advice from your grandpa!

      Reply

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