Saturday, January 9, 2016

A-Z OF LIFE SERIES #1: ASPIRATION

 
There is no secret around these parts that I am a new mummy and worked as a teacher until I moved to Germany two years ago. Over the years I have had to dish out appropriate personal advice and support, alongside grammar lessons and Shakespeare texts (Romeo definitely has some rebelliousness problems) and while this does not qualify me as an 'expert' in life, it does mean that I have had many occasions to reflect on what makes people happy, and help them to reach their own decisions on what they should do to reach their own personal goals. Since the birth of my daughter, I have also often mused on how I should raise her and the values that I want to share  - so I decided to write a new series, posting twice (and sometimes more) a month, on a Saturday , in order to help me wrap my head around what I think is at the heart of having a happy life. Each time I will be using a letter of the alphabet to choose a word that I think is important for living contentedly.

Aspiration is one of the biggest motivators in my life. I don't see it as a synonym for ambition, which can often have negative connotations, or be associated with reaching the top of something. In some areas (particularly my career) I have been extremely ambitious, with some success as a result of stubbornly following goals, but it didn't make me happy. With every goal reached, it never seemed enough, culminating in bitter disappointment.


That is why I do not think that aspiration is the same as ambition; it isn't so much a set of targets to be reached, but a dream. You can aspire to be a great artist, writer, astronaut, kind, brave, helpful, confident and it will be the first in many steps to motivating you to take action. Aspiration is a kind of hope where there isn't a tick box to fill; it is less pressured than ambition as a result. Your ambition to be a published author is different as well from an aspiration to be a writer - one can write excellently and BE a writer, without ever having a word printed (except from maybe your own home printer or on the Internet). To have joy just from writing something, having the aspiration to always improve is (I think) just as commendable and is perhaps more likely to help you achieve your ambition of one day being published. To sit down to write a blog post, novel or poem, without the clinical ambition of thinking 'what will make this successful' gives it life and authenticity. 

While I agree with the general blogging advice, that one must write for one's audience in order to be a 'successful' blogger, there is also a balance to be struck between achieving success and losing your own personal voice along the way. Posts like this, which may be seen as purely self indulgent, are rarely seen on blogs with the ambition to be commercially successful (at least until success has been achieved and a following established). However, I ASPIRE to write with my own voice and values; I write not to win hundreds of thousands of readers, but because I simply love writing (and spouting off my opinions, it seems!). Hopefully, there will be people out there that read and enjoy what I type here on the interwebs and subscribe to my musings.

If they don't, then it is not a big deal - my aspirations have not been damaged...there is no sense of failure. I can switch on my laptop, take a deep breath and tap away, happy in the knowledge that I am free to love what I am doing.

Although I do aspire to be a better writer, and one day to write a novel, there are other aspirations that I value as highly. I aspire to be kind, champion women, helpful, organised, generous and patient. Again, not always successfully (damn you patience!), but the aspiration remains. These are not ambitions to be measured, stuck in a spreadsheet and analysed. There are more like a compass with which I choose to life my life.

What do you aspire to be? Would 'aspiration' be your 'A' word in the 'A-Z of life'? Leave a comment below or tweet me your ideas. I would love to hear them. If you want to follow the series the next post will be in two weeks - you could mark it in your calendar, or even better follow me via Bloglovin' or Twitter so that you never miss a post.

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