Ah, the impending New Year. Time of resolutions, time for a fresh start. Time, perhaps, to pin up a few inspiring quotes to strengthen our resolve! …but wait. Does anyone else have a total love-hate relationship with motivational quotes? As inspiring as they can be, they also have a tendency to leave me feeling slightly inadequate. Invariably they’ll make me think: This person has got it sorted! But what about me? Am I really doing my best to realise my full potential? Is my ‘best’ even good enough? What IS my full potential anyway? Are any of my goals ambitious or useful enough? And so on… And if you’re anything like me, these nagging feelings can apply to both our professional and our personal ambitions.

It’s very easy to think that unless we’re pretty much saving the world, we’re not doing enough. I certainly used to think this. As in: “Unless I can be a perfect [interpreter/public speaker/community organiser/CAT tool user], it’s not worth even trying… I’ll make mistakes along the way. It’ll be embarrassing.” But here’s one thing I learned this year, one thing I finally managed to understand in my heart, rather than just with my head: ‘Your best’ can only ever mean your personal best. Because why would anyone else’s standards be any more valid than yours? And in order to change the world or master a new skill, all you can ever do is start with yourself, from where you are now. As a very wise person said to me this year: “In order to get to where you want to be, you need to start from where you are.” All it takes is a little commitment. Well ok – quite a lot of commitment, actually! But once you’ve committed to something, whatever it might be, it is amazing how people and events can conspire to help you, simply because you are aware, attuned, and ready to seize these opportunities when they do come along. I’m experiencing this phenomenon myself at the moment. And I love it, not just because it brings me closer to my own personal goals, but also because it reminds me that we are all part of a larger web of (mostly caring) humans, (mostly fragile) ecosystems and (most definitely) random events.

Therefore, if I may, I shall leave you with one of my favourite motivational quotes of 2017:

“On Commitment”:

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.

This was long thought to have been written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, but it is in fact almost certainly originally from William H. Murray, Scottish mountaineer and author of The Scottish Himalayan Expedition. Which makes eminent sense to me: climbers and mountaineers tend to know a thing or two about commitment! Which in turn makes them the very best source of truly inspirational quotes. No joke. Here’s another one, attributed to British rock climbing legend Joe Brown:

If you can’t reach the next hold, climb up to it.

Simple, really. Goals that seem out of (one) reach are almost certainly within two, three or four reaches. Or it might take one hundred and thirty-seven reaches! But with commitment and perseverance, and in your own unique style, you will get there.

So, in 2018… let’s all climb on!

Happy New Year!
Guten Rutsch und Frohes Neues!
¡Feliz Año Nuevo!