5 Quotes to gain perspective and stick to your goals

In the pursuit of our goals, we are down to face challenges and difficult situations that will provoke our mind to reconsider whether or not we want to keep going. This is especially true if you have set courageous goals as I explain in this article (link). Either you are experiencing this situation, or you want a bit of inspiration to reflect upon your journey. Here I intend to bring 5 quotes that can help you gain perspective, build resilience and navigate your path when the waters get rough. So, let’s go for it.

“Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: Some things are within our control, and some things are not. It is only after you have faced up to this fundamental rule and learned to distinguish between what you can and can’t control that inner tranquillity and outer effectiveness become possible.”

Epictetus

This quote comes from a figure whose fame and influence overshone the one of Plato. Epictetus was a freed slave who ran a Stoic school in ancient Greece and had an important role in the Roman empire. The quote can be found in his book, “the Enchiridion” and he spots a real game-changer tool for living: learning to differentiate what it is and it is not within our power.

One of the main reasons for emotional suffering is wanting something that is not under our control. For example, other people’s behaviours or opinions about us. In my coaching sessions, I’ve seen quite a few changing moments in my clients coming from realising that excessive energy (and high expectation) are put into something that is not up to them. In consequence, an immediate reflection exercise takes place leading to acceptance of the situation and a refocus on what is important. Beyond question, tranquillity and effectiveness rely on learning to focus our actions on what is within our power and willing to let go of what it is not.

“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth”

Marcus Aurelius.

Yes, our perception influences our actions. This quote comes from Marcus Aurelius, he was one of the five greatest emperors of Rome, and he kept his reflections and ethical thinking in a journal never intended to be published: “Meditations”. With this phrase, Marcus tries to signal an important issue. Imagine that the obstacle, the difficulty, or whatever it is that is holding you from moving forward was just your perspective. Imagine that it wasn’t true.  What would you do then? Yes, thinking about it might trigger your fears, frustrations and even anger. However, if you step back and evaluate the situation, the block will stay there, but we can shift our perspective and make it a necessary part of our way forward. For example, if we were not doing a public speech, the nervousness and anxiety would not be there, but we are doing it, so it is there, it is necessary. Not an obstacle, but a part of the process. That’s a change of perspective, I assure you 100% that obstacles will be on your path, but are personal achievement and success free of any obstacle?

“Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.”

Viktor Frankl

Viktor Frankl is not only known for being a holocaust survivor, but also for being the founder of logotherapy. Only his book “Man’s search for meaning” has the power to transform your life, it is truly a must-read. With this quote, Viktor removes all the barriers that you may be experiencing and he leaves your most important skill, your ability to respond. Yes, everybody has this ability, regardless of your situation you currently are, we can only control what we do next, and that will define our response and ultimately who we are. Nothing can take that from you.

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

Viktor Frankl

This quote is pure magic, here Viktor unveils the space that directs our lives. If you think about it, where we are now is the concatenation of thousands of decisions and actions that we have taken. Those decisions were made between a stimulus (an event) and our response (our actions), therefore, that space becomes the summary of our lives. In coaching, it is common to see coachees developing their way to use this space. This goes first by raising their self-awareness and second by using the new information to take meaningful actions. Unfortunately, this is not something that happens overnight, but a set of small actions taken in a new direction will eventually make the turn. Every new day brings opportunities to use this space, don’t just react, respond.

“It’s time you realized that you have something in you more powerful and miraculous than the things that affect you and make you dance like a puppet.”

Marcus Aurelius

Let’s think about it: Isn’t it time to realise that we have what it takes to overtake what is holding us back? Here Marcus strikes us directly in our face. Most of the time, the things that affect us are bigger in our imagination than in reality. A simple exercise of reflection can help us to realise this, and we will only be effective with this if we decide to make a move. A chessboard does not become a board game until someone makes a move. We can spend time thinking about it, we can argue with our loved ones and weigh the pros and cons but moving is a verb that requires action.

All in all, the achievement of courageous goals requires discipline and effort as weapons of our robust mind. But we are not machines and when the path becomes muddy we can slip up and start feeling discouraged. If you are in this situation, it is important to stay in one piece and widening your perspective can help you to challenge your thoughts to find new actions. Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus and Viktor Frankl went through their challenges and left some of their learnings to help us. But if what they say does not resonate with you, I encourage you to look for those who do. They don’t even need to be iconic people, it can be anyone, just a reference figure whose way of thinking and being brings back up in your feet to keep moving forward.

REFERENCES

[1] Meditations. Marcus Aurelius
[2] Discourses and Selected Writings. Epictetus
[3] Man’s search for meaning. Viktor Frankl