Been working on any goals lately? Applying, interviewing, training, learning, practicing…applying again. It’s a lot of striving, a lot of thinking about the future and working really hard in the present to make that future look a certain way. And you know what happens when you achieve a goal, right? Yasssss, elation! And then….the next thing. There’s always another goal. Just when you think you’ve crossed the finish line, it moves — or maybe it’s more like you realize there’s a whole other race to be run, and that’s where your focus goes. It’s relentless, yeah? This business of making an exceptional life happen is not for the easily exhausted. Surely there’s another way, though? You know there is…
Feeling like there’s always another mountain to climb can be really disheartening. We all need a space to rest, and shifting your attention to what’s next after a long haul to achieving a goal makes it hard to do that. Ever catch yourself actually thinking (or straight up saying out loud – no judgment), “Can’t I just have a second to enjoy this??” Wouldn’t be surprising at all, because it’s totally justified. You do deserve to be able to enjoy what you’ve accomplished. So what’s stopping you from doing so?
Now, I’m not one of those people who’s going to tell you that you’re completely in charge of your own happiness. Stuff happens, life can be tough, and some days you just need to be sad/mad/petty (feeler’s choice). You have to feel it to get through it. I do believe that you can get in the way of your own happiness, though. There are lots of reasons we might do that, and equally as many methods for doing so. It actually comes down to your personal relationship with happiness, which you might want to explore at some point. Note to self, on the shelf.
For today, however, we’re talking about giving credit where credit is due. You worked hard, you got something you wanted, and then you immediately let your attention go on to the next thing. It seems like the right strategy for a talented, ambitious, responsible person, right? Except it leaves you with this perpetually empty space inside, thirsty for acknowledgment, and downright exhausted. Doesn’t sound like someone who’s making their dreams come true, does it? (Which, for the record, is exactly what you’re doing).
The truth is, you’ll never do enough, have enough or be enough if you don’t first believe that you inherently are enough. You, by virtue of your very existence, are enough. Your achievements and impact are things that you as a whole person can create, but they are not you. Constantly staring at the horizon to figure out what’s next takes your eyes off exactly where the fulfillment is: right there inside ya already. If you don’t connect with it there, then no accumulation of external kudos is going to make you feel it. There will always be a next thing, and there will never be enough, until you recognize that there has always been enough in you, simply being who you authentically are.
No matter where you go or what you do next, you’re the one who’s going there. The opportunities, successes, failures, experiences and plans that you encounter are part of your path, but they are not your identity. They are important, but they are temporary. You don’t need them to be valuable, or whole.
By all means, go confidently in the direction of your dreams (merci, Thoreau). Be significant. Exceed your own expectations. But don’t do any of that to fill yourself, because there’s a hole in the bottom of that kind of bucket. You are already complete, and the world needs you to bring everything that you have, in the unique combination in which you have it, to what you choose to do next. What that is, and when it is, is up to you, and it will not by any means define you.
Photo credit: Rula Sibai