Start where you are with what you have (Do what you can)

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Dr Humphrey Mutiti

…Making Your Life Count with Dr Humphrey Mutiti

WORKING to obtain dreams is hard. Combatting adversity as we work on a project, a dream, or just in day-to-day life is even harder. Progress demands seeing beyond the frustrations, setbacks, and fears that slam daily. Keeping up the course, dream, and project requires that we put aside frustrations over results and progress that come scarcely and on a smaller scale than might be glamorous.

When such drawbacks arise in my life, and I‘m able to view them objectively, it appears to me that they come from three main sources:

1. Pain

Pain that I’m not starting from a promising position where the results and rewards flow regularly.

2. Refusing to accept where I am. This causes me not to see opportunities where I am and feel like they are exhausting their efforts. Often greener pastures are right where we are.

3. Discouragement

The discouragement that everywhere I look others seem to find life easy, they don’t suffer the same vexation and frustration that I do – Unhelpful comparisons with others, a refusal to acknowledge what I have and use what I have.

I know it’s outrageous to allow these feelings to hold such significance over my mood and mind-set. Understanding it makes it no easier to resist or manage.

Here is how we must face life.

1. Start where you are

I find pleasure in reflecting on the past and revisiting treasured memories. Though there is no future in the past, and that the past can also be a basis of great misery and frustration, but if viewed through a different lens, looking back can also be helpful and heart-warming.

When I get tangled in the past, it’s far too easy to assess past-decisions, regrets the failures, and question why I did things that I did. My past has shaped me and determined my present reality.

I’d much rather be starting from a better position than I am, and it frustrates me that this is the case, especially since I should be grateful for all I have.

I cannot change the past or where I find myself now. I am where I am. The past has been written and contains many stories, events and experiences. Each of these has played a part in making the present what it is right now. To resist this reality is impractical and serves only to draw away time and effort away from the things that could make a difference.

2. Use what you have.

One of my biggest challenges is in keeping focused on myself and avoiding the unhelpful comparison with others. I know it’s indispensable to do this and yet it’s incredibly hard to practice.

Whatever you may be seeking to change in your life, you’ve likely been inspired to do so through the example of someone else. In every field, there are the professionals, the industry figureheads, the stars, and the luminaries whose examples we’ve observed and decided we want to emulate. It’s not just celebrities or heroes either; I know I’m inclined to looking around at peers, friends, and even family members who have got or done things I want for myself. Taking inspiration from others is positive, but it’s seldom the only outcome from comparing ourselves to them.

Comparisons are generally unhelpful since:

1. We’re only likely to compare ourselves to others whose achievements impede our own and hence make ourselves feel bad in the process. It’d be fine if we sought their example as a provocation to work hard to get there, but most (myself included) use the comparison as a means of beating ourselves up for not being where we’d like to be.

2. We only see the publically shared information that represents the joys, the good points, and the achievements. Nobody shares the downs, the failures, or the difficulties, only the handfuls they’re proud of which will enhance their ego. If only we could remember this when correlating ourselves to them, we might feel better about how we measure up.

3. We don’t recognize all the years of hard work, disappointments, failures, and the periodic good-fortune that resulted in their achievements.

Using what we have means maintaining an inward focus on making the best use of our own time, skills, potential, and attention rather than being driven by factors outside of our influence. Progress towards our goals each day, depends on how we apply our skills, time and resources, the actions we take, the decisions we make and the distractions we resist. It all comes down to us.

I’m certain that to free ourselves to take the action required to bring about change, we need to have some expectation and anticipation of results or payback from our efforts, and otherwise, we’ll feel defeated before I’ve begun. The tricky balance is in making sure the action is undertaken in its own right and for its own benefit; the results may or may not come as quickly as expected, to the scale expected but results will come nonetheless. They will only come though, if action is taken and if things are done.

We just have to trust that if action is taken then results will follow.

Start, Begin, Do

The common theme throughout Arthur Ashe’s quote is that it all comes back to a focus on doing things, of starting rather than procrastinating or hoping for better. Resisting distraction and comparison, focusing attention upon taking action and accepting our starting point as the launching pad for the process of creation are all essential if we’re to free ourselves to take action and get on with the process of doing.

Sure, we may wish for more favourable conditions. Our starting point may be non-ideal. Progress to now may well have been rocky, or non-existent to this point. Regardless of all these factors, we have the choice to accept them and to act regardless, or to use them as further sources of despondency and justifications for inaction.

It’s a battle I fight with myself daily, but I know that it feels better when I choose the path of action. I hope the same is true for you.

Author: Dr. Humphrey Mutiti is a missionary and church planter in South Africa, called into the ministry of prayer, a conference speaker, with a Diploma in Missions, two Ph.Ds. – one in Ministry and the other in Theology. He is serving as a National overseer and an instructor (South Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia for the Great Commission Bible Institute), is an author of several books, writes his monthly articles in “The Christ Tabloid” Newspaper in Durban and runs a daily ‘MOMENT OF REFRESHING’ program on Facebook, Instagram, and on WhatsApp. On the YouTube channel he is running a program ‘Making Your Life Count’, and is currently studying for another Ph.D. in the school of Law with the Atlantic International University (USA). Until now he is the founder and presiding pastor of Covenant Church International.

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