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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Getting Ahead

Why Accepting Mediocrity Will Help You Reach Your Goals, According to Cheryl Strayed

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There’s a big career goal you’ve been dreaming of. You want to move into management, change careers, start a side hustle, or establish yourself as a thought leader.

So, you researched it and came up with a plan. As you began, you had a lot of fire and energy. But, then, you found you couldn’t take the necessary steps to follow through.

In other words, you revamped all of your materials, but stopped yourself from applying to any jobs in a new field. Or, you designed the first half of a website for a side gig, but couldn’t decide how to finish it, so it’s yet to go live. Or, you drafted a post an on issue in your industry, but you never got around to publishing it.

People who think you just need to put in a little more time or effort have it all wrong. You set time aside repeatedly, and genuinely want to see it through. In fact, it’s your quest to perfectly attain your dream that’s holding you back.

Cheryl Strayed, the number one New York Times Best-Selling Author of Wild has been there. Writer Catherine Clifford points to part of an interview Strayed gave to Tim Ferriss, where Strayed says:

What I had to do was that humble thing [and say]: ‘Guess what, it’s true, I might be writing a mediocre book. I might be writing a book that nobody ever reads.’ And I just have to surrender to the truth of that, and I have to surrender to this notion that even if I am mediocre, what matters more to me than writing a great novel is writing a novel. And that was a huge lesson.

Ironically, it was allowing herself to write a book that would be just OK that freed Strayed up to keep going and finish a memoir—a memoir, that you might recall, was turned into an Oscar-nominated movie starring Reese Witherspoon.

The pressure we put on ourselves to do everything perfectly can be suffocating. But, if you shift your mindset from focusing on being successful to finishing what you set out to accomplish—regardless of the results—you’ll find it’s suddenly easier to keep going. It worked for Strayed, and could be just the new thinking you need as well.