Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt. --William Shakespeare
On December 20th, I am scheduled to test for a 1st dan black belt in karate. As the date approaches, I'm recalling how I used to feel every semester in college as finals approached -- a strange mixture of anticipation and dread. I'm eager to prove myself worthy of the honor, yet wondering if I'm truly up to the task.
Logically, I know that I wouldn't be invited to test if my Sensei didn't think I was ready for this challenge or worthy of the rank. And I'm confident that I know the material and can perform well. But there's still the little splinter of self-doubt that has burrowed into me, causing a bothersome worry out of proportion to its size. A single heckler plainly heard over a large audience.
When in doubt, sing loud! --Robert Merrill
So, how do I pluck the splinter and quell the doubt? All I can do is to keep training and honing my skills, while trying to keep perspective on how far I have progressed instead of dwelling on my weaknesses and shortcomings. In other words, focus on the journey traveled instead of the remaining distance. I've heard it expressed as "not thinking in the gap". When assessing your progress towards goals, focus on your progress and accomplishments instead of obsessing over the gap between your current capability and the idealized goal. Because by the simple striving for the goal, I have progressed mightily and greatly increased my capability.
Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do. -- Pope John XXIII