I just turned forty-two the other day. Forty! Two! Or maybe I should write that without the exclamation points that imply giddy enthusiasm. Forty. Two.
As my parents like to say about the numeric values they now find themselves accumulating on birthdays (when it fits), “I remember when those numbers were reversed.”
Yes, in some respects it seems like just yesterday that I was twenty-four years old. Twenty-four and just married and just about to step into a complex adulthood, the particulars of which none of us can truly imagine beforehand. But, in other respects (probably because that adulthood is so complex and prone to unforeseen stresses), it seems like a lifetime has passed since I was getting carded for beer purchases on a regular basis.
No, I did not get carded at the microbrewery my wife and I visited for my birthday (although neither did the three kids who came in after us and looked to be all of nineteen). However, I couldn’t help feeling just a little bit old. Or old-er. Because each year we are all a bit older than we were on that fabulous birthday we enjoyed just twelve months prior (is your mind blown by the profundity of that observation, or what?).
But not everything about getting older is bad. With age can come a few wrinkles and a sometimes geriatric obsession with getting "enough" sleep, but with it can also come certain gains in wisdom and personal growth. And hopefully those things allow us to enjoy increasing personal freedom and satisfaction on a year-by-year basis.
So, in the spirit of celebrating that increased knowledge that comes with age, I would like to use my next few blog posts to reflect on some of the life lessons I’ve learned over the years—lessons that I hope will give you a measure of comfort and inspiration as you reflect on them.
Today’s Life Lesson: In the future you will be able to do things that seem impossible right now.
The other day I was listening to a Tony Robbins podcast while enjoying an autumn afternoon in the park, and Master Tony had the following reminder for his listeners. He said, “Everything you are doing now, there was a time when you weren’t able to do it.”
Translation: Some things you want to accomplish in the future might seem impossible now, but you’ve already proven that you can do the “impossible.” You’re stronger than you think, so just take a deep breath and take your next goals one step a time.
On the eve of my forty-second birthday, I celebrated by running eight miles at the gym. Wild and crazy, I know!
Now, if you’ve read any of my previous blog posts about exercise, then you might know that I really don’t love indoor running (treadmills usually make my hips hurt, and many of the TVs at my gym are usually programmed to very unrelaxing or uninteresting selections like politics or the Weather Channel or Instagram feeds featuring disturbing and narcissistic photos of select members’ lats, delts, quads, and general vein topography). But be that as it may, the weather was not nice in Wisconsin that day—the temperature had dropped into the 30s and we actually saw our first brief snowfalls of the year—so I headed to my dojo around 5:30 p.m. and dutifully strapped myself onto one of those cursed running machines.
Unfortunately, I wound up on a treadmill stationed directly in front of a television broadcasting a sixty-minute Donald Trump speech. Not even kidding.
But whatever. I had earbuds and music, and the point here isn’t to debate indoor vs. outdoor running or to debate what should or shouldn’t be on the televisions at the gym. The point here is to illustrate just how far a person can progress personally, even in a relatively short period of time.
Getting older can mean getting better in many respects. I know that from experience.
Just a few years ago I was unable to run a 5K without taking multiple walking breaks, and back in 2012 I wasn’t running at all. In fact, on that birthday weekend—when I was just entering my mid-thirties—I was still smoking cigarettes and adhering to a daily regimen of prescription medications that included: Paxil, Xanax, Metoprolol, Lisinopril, and Hydrochlorothiazide (an SSRI, benzodiazepine, beta blocker, ACE inhibitor, and diuretic).
Now in my forties, I don’t take any prescription medications, and while it wasn’t an easy, breezy journey to get off of those pills (I actually suffered through a protracted antidepressant/benzodiazepine withdrawal: you can see my YouTube channel about that here), it was something that I was able to do, even though I once thought it impossible.
So what “impossible” things might I be able to do in the future?
And what might you be able to accomplish? What sorts of things do you really, really want for your life that your fear might simply be impossible to reach?
Don’t give into that fear of the “I” word. Instead, take a deep breath, place those really big hopes and dreams into the hands of God, and just start walking toward your goals one determined step at a time.
Nowadays when I dream about something I’d like to accomplish in the future—something that seems like it ought be labeled with that “I” word—I try to remember that very few things are actually impossible.
Impossible is mostly a mind game. And in order to conquer that mind game, we need to stop trying to accomplish the entirety of a goal at once. Instead, we must take one small step at a time toward our really big goals. And we must congratulate ourselves on each step taken.
Those “impossible” goals don’t get accomplished overnight, but rather they get accomplished incrementally, with faith, determination, and persistence.
If a goal of yours seems impossible right now, don’t think about getting there by tomorrow. Instead, just think about taking one step in the right direction, and don’t put a firm timeline on your arrival in “goal/dream” territory.
Then, after you’ve found your footing and a little momentum, take another small step in the right direction.
That is how you do the impossible.
MICHAEL PRIEBE is is a writer and personal development coach who has studied psychology, literature, and print journalism. He holds a journalism degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he graduated with honors, and over the years he has used both fiction and nonfiction formats to comment on politics, sports, relationships, health, and spiritual issues. In 2017 he released a workday devotional, The Lovely Grind: Spiritual Inspiration for Workdays (ORDER HERE), and he currently blogs about a variety of topics at Michaelpriebewriter.com and Lovelygrind.com. You can get his monthly inspirational newsletter by signing up for his mailing list here, and you can enjoy all of his YouTube videos here.
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