I have a habit of living in the future. I make big plans. I break those big plans into big goals with realistic deadlines, then into smaller goals with even more realistic deadlines.
Most of the time I reach my goals.
But, I’ve rarely felt fulfilled by those achievements.
Being a rational, over-achieving, lawyer – the thing to do was obvious.
Dream up bigger goals with UNrealistic deadlines and WORK HARDER.
Obvious. Rational. Logical.
Duh. I’m right, right?
Well, maybe not so much. Because when I create unrealistic goals and deadlines, and work even harder to find that fulfillment in achievement, I fall short. So, no fulfillment in achieving the realistic goals and no fulfillment in falling short of the unrealistic goals. This cycle leads to some outward success, but leaves a void inside.
Maybe you’ve been there. Maybe you’ve felt that void.
Now, I’m REALLY good a this. I’ve been practicing for about 25 years. It’s what got me through college. It’s what motivated me to work hard and get promotions & bonuses. It’s what drove me to law school and whipped me into passing a couple bar exams. This process helped me start my own firm, borrow too much money to go after a few too many unrealistic goals, fall short and go through bankruptcy. The constant feeling that setting better goals and working harder to achieve them caused a lot of damage in my life and it also created some great stuff. I’ve done some good things and I’ve helped a lot of people. So, I’m unwilling to stop creating goals
But something has to change.
I think there will be three primary changes:
1. I will strive to set fewer rather than more goals. After 25 years, I’m realizing that putting less pressure on myself just MIGHT leave room for more happiness.
2. The goals I DO set will always include an open top – in the form of either “at least” or “or better.” For example: “Average monthly revenue will increase by AT LEAST 15% for 2011.” or “Average monthly revenue will increase by 15% in 2011, OR BETTER.” This will allow me to set realistic goals, but not get trapped into limiting thoughts.
3. I’ll strive to live by a set of core principles (or maybe my “Guiding Values” – Accept, Show Up, Pay Attention, Irons in the Fire, Stewardship) instead of rules and goals in an effort pay more attention to the EXPERIENCE and FEELINGS of the present moment instead of always sitting in the future goal.
However, I’m not comfortable feeling “rudderless” and just drifting along (although drifting downstream takes way less energy than trying to paddle against the flow). At least I’m not comfortable with that YET, although maybe it IS the secret to enlightenment and daily happiness & fulfillment – complete surrender and faith in God….
So, all of my principles must be themed around what I understand to be my purpose in life – the reason God put me on the planet.
My understanding of my purpose goes something along the lines of helping people reach their potential by fueling their inner spark of divinity through creativity – more specifically, creative business. I’m here to help people align who the are inside with what they do in the world. First people need to recognize their inner spark of divinity, then it’s time to share that spark with the rest of us. The sharing is the fuel. The sharing, in our culture, CAN take the form of a business venture. When people create businesses that are motivated by the inspiration to share who they are with the rest of us, it becomes easy to do the things entrepreneurs need to do.
Are these the answers for everyone? Probably not, they might not even be the answers for me. What I DO know is that what I’ve been practicing to become very good over the last 25 years hasn’t been the answer either and I’m getting tired of that same old story of not being fulfilled by my successes or failures, so I’m going to turn some pages.
How about you?
Leave a comment. I’d love to get more input on this line of thinking.