January 28

I don’t want to alarm you, but there is a very dangerous narrative that well-meaning parents and mentors parrot to children, and it’s creatinganepidemicof anxiety. Do you want to know what it is?

“You can beanythingyou want to be.”

I know that this advice is intended to give kids the courage to pursue their dreams, but it’s simply not true. No matter how hard they practice, the odds of a five-foot-six boy making it to the NBA are very, very slim. (It’s happened, but it’s extremely rare and accomplished only by athletic outliers.) And the likelihood of becoming a rock/movie/literary star are slim as well.

The problem with this advice is that it focuses on the end result instead of the process. It encourages children to think about where they will end up instead of how they will get there.

Our narratives—the things we choose to believe—in many ways define our experiences of the world. If we are focused on obtaining a rare and glorified position, we will grow disillusioned as we see that dream slipping out of sight. However, if we instead focus on becoming the kind of person who is likely to obtain that rare and glorified position, we win either way.

Instead of focusing on achievingthe thing, focus on getting better at your craft.

Instead of worrying about whether others notice you, focus on becoming more noteworthy in how you do your work.

Choose to follow a narrative that’s about getting better instead of arriving. Focus on process, not outcomes.

How can you shift your narratives to be more about process than outcome?

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