More than anything, this is a letter to myself from myself.
However, I know that I can’t be the only one who needs to hear this message, so I’m sharing it with the world in the hopes that it will reach the eyes and ears of those who need it most.
BeforeI go further, I want to create some contrast. In order to highlight the sentiment that is soon to follow, let me provide some context as to how objectively amazing the past five months of my life have been.
I graduated with my Doctorate of Physical Therapy, delivered the graduation speech, proposed to my best friend (now fiancé), passed the board exam, moved out on my own, got published by the APTA and am currently working full time treating patients that I love to see.
The past five months have been a dream. However, things have slowed down and the monotonous rhythm of full time work has lulled me into a rut. To this point, my life has been centered around goal-setting, striving for high performance and attaining high achievement. With no real goal or definite end to work towards, I’m confused.
I feel such a strong desire to do the next big thing, but at the same time, I feel like my feet are glued to the ground. I want so badly to make big moves, but I feel as if life is tugging on the back of my shirt, holding me back as my wheels spin.
I needed this pep talk and I have a hunch that someone else does too.
Here it is.
Don’t panic; you have time.
I’m an ambitious and driven person and overall, that serves me well. However, sometimes those qualities (in addition to being impatient and impulsive) can work against me. I know where I want to be and I put pressure on myself to get there right now. I often see other people and want to be where they are or have what they have, conveniently ignoring the fact that their circumstances are different than mine. I look at others and overlook the decades of life that they have on me. I have a bad habit of letting comparison translate to anxiousness and impatience turn to desperation.
Trust the process (have some faith).
I believe with all of my heart that everything happens for a reason. I trust that God has a plan for me and that He will lead me where I need to be. In times filled with uncertainty and frustration, I need to do a better job of falling back on that faith. I know that I might not be where I want to be, but at the same time, I am where God wants me to be in this moment in time and that is important. I need to do a better job of trusting the process and embracing the fact that I can do great things from right where I am, even if I don’t know where I’m going.
You can make a difference here and now.
Even though I feel lost and I don’t know where I am going, I need to do a better job of understanding how much of an impact I can have in the middle of this moment, regardless of the one before or the one to come. I need to do a better job of embracing the fact that with each minute, I have the very real opportunity to make a positive difference in the world around me. I need to lean into the truth that each interaction, no matter how big or how small, is a chance to change a life and leave this world better than I found it.
Do the next right thing.
I need to start listening to my own advice. Much like I told asserted in the graduation speech that I delivered, “when you’re not sure what to do next, do the next right thing.” I often get lost in the next big thing and that makes it easy to miss out on the next right thing. I need to focus on being consistent and doing the little things well in the present moment. Sometimes, I need to loosen my grip on the long-term vision and trust the fact that the consistent repetition of “next right things” will lead to where I want to be and who I need to be.
Find what is important and don’t budge.
When I’m not sure what to do next, it always helps me to fall back on guiding principles; the unwavering list of things that are important to me. I need to keep life simple and remember that unless I stick to that list, nothing else matter. I need to adhere to those principles in all circumstances, even when I’m feeling lost. This will look different for everybody, but for me, it consists of bringing value to other people, lifting other people up, loving God, loving others, encouraging others, believing in others, living a life of integrity, leading through example and leaving this world better than I found it in all areas. I know that if I live life on those terms, then things will fall into place.
It might not sound all that exciting, but what I need to do is be patient and be the best version of myself each day. If I do those things and remain consistent in my pursuit of what is good, then I’ll end up where I need to be when I need to be there, and I need to trust that. I need to stop thinking about “what I shoulder do next” and think about “what I should do now.” I need to zoom in on the present moment and live a life filled with love. I need to remember that I am enough and that it’s ok to take some pressure off “future Joe” and just let “present Joe” do his thing.
I have always found something therapeutic about writing and as I sit here and write these final words, I feel better. I’m not sure what tomorrow will bring, and I know that at some point, I will feel lost again. However, I feel confident that this blog will keep me grounded and focused when that next wave of disorientation hits. I want you to know that when you’re feeling lost, you’re not alone. I want this blog to serve as a reminder that despite outward appearances and seemingly perfect life circumstances, it’s normal to feel down. It happens to us all, but that feeling doesn’t have to last and we shouldn’t let it define us. Whether you know it or not, every single person in this world is battling something that you can’t see. Whether it’s a close friend or a complete stranger passing on the street, I want to encourage you to be the reason that someone smiles today, because a smile can make someone’s day and even save someone’s life. While you might not know the impact of your smile, I personally don’t want to take a chance.
The next time that you’re feeling lost, whether I know you or not, reach out.
I would love to hear from you.
Thank you, as always, for reading.
Joe Rinaldi, PT, DPT