Here’s something that I know to be true: after working to get something, actually getting the things that we want just has us become more of who we already are.
This has some pretty serious implications if you stop to ask yourself what it is that you’re currently desiring or working towards in your life–because if the journey of attaining the thing or shifting your life in some way is not bringing you some measure of fulfillment, the actual complete attainment of the thing will not bring you fulfillment, either.
Joy, happiness, or at least that sense of pride that comes with knowing that you’ve risen to meet a challenge–if that’s not happening along the way, these are signs that are whispering: “This isn’t quite the right direction.”
We become more of who we already are when we reach a journey’s end-point. A lack of vitality along the way is a sign that something is amiss.
If what you want is money, but you want the money because you carry a lot of fear and want the money so that you can finally feel “safe,” actually getting your windfall will just amplify what’s already there.
You’ll become more of who you already are–someone who is even more afraid, because now more money is involved. The energy that is not transformed will just transfer to the new content.
The sign along the way that something was amiss? The lack of joy or fulfillment that was present in the journey to the money. It was whispering to you: “What you truly want is not actually over here.”
And also for instance:
If what you want is a successful business, but you want the successful business because deep down, you need to feel you’re “enough” and to keep busy, getting the successful business will just amplify what’s already there.
You’ll become more of who you already are–someone who is in need of external things to prove worth, who will always be looking for that next hit of success, or someone who drives herself into the ground, keeping “busy.” The signs along the way? The lack of joy or fulfillment that nagged at you, quietly, showing up as things like comparing yourself to others and coming up short.
(Note: after spending a few years consulting with people on their business practices, I have especially noticed this truth. The people who are happiest as entrepreneurs are the people who went into it with a high value on being of service. As soon as they start working for themselves, that value amplifies–they become more of who they already are–and they experience, alongside the challenges, a sense of gratitude for the process).
Transparency and Truth
We are always, in every moment, just becoming more of who we already are. I don’t mean “who we already are” in that deepest core sense, because of course that is beyond words. I mean the “who we are” as personality, or “ego.”
Eckhart Tolle teaches that we always know the personality is at work when what we have to offer isn’t quite good enough and we are caught in the pursuit of more, more, more.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken a deep breath and checked myself after a success, and found that if I was truly honest with myself, there was still a subtle underplay of “not enough” that was present. It has taken presence and work to notice this and to be with it.
It has taken even more presence–and courage–to be willing to trust that if the “not enough” feeling was happening during the journey to change or acquire or experience something in my life, it was going to show up at the end of the journey, too.
That meant that it would already be time to course-correct.
That’s right–even if I’d put a lot of work into seeing something happen, and even if I didn’t know what the next step was, if I was already noticing that subtle undercurrent of lack, I might as well wash my hands of the whole endeavor, because I already know how things will feel at the finish line.
By contrast, even when I was creating a new e-program and had no idea where the work was going or had writer’s block or felt stuck, there was an underlying sense of being intrigued by the challenge, a sense that there was nothing more I wanted to do than get up in the morning and sit down to write what felt honest and true.
By contrast–earning more degrees? More awards? The “accomplishment” of getting name-dropped by someone significant or having a certain number of followers?
Those things have never felt fulfilling along the way, so “getting there” was only a momentary point of celebration. Sure, it felt great, but not great enough to make up for the fact that the journey itself had been less than joyful.
Stopping is a Choice
We live in a culture that is so highly oriented around starting things, and then next is the exhortation to “finish what you start.”
I believe in that. I see how the most pressing problem is that most people quit because of fear.
At the same time, I can see how we don’t stop to really ask ourselves if we want what we’re so hell-bent on pursuing. If we’d just stop to ask ourselves “Is this truly where I’m meant to be? Am I happy?” and get honest about the response, a lot of people would find that their truth is they’re investing a lot of time into things that aren’t truly what they desire.
The truth about getting what you want is that the things that are most significant in our lives will start to enliven us even with the first step. Even the fear will be accompanied by that sense of vitality–a vitality that shows up as intrigue, or a new bad-ass attitude towards facing fear, or curiosity about facing a challenge.
Vitality is that way. A life does not wait to begin when something is fully formed; life is happening, right here and right now, with every stage of development, and when I look around at the natural world, it seems to me nothing but sheer celebration, from acorn to root to trunk to tree.
We can learn something from that. What’s your right-here, right-now looking like? Is it a 100% fully alive experience, with presence to both the joys and the challenges and the rewards of meeting them?
Iyanla Vanzant says, “Your life speaks to you. You have to learn to listen.”
In this moment, what is your life telling you? Get honest with the core truth of that, and something even more exciting happens–the gifts of going after the things you desire begin as soon as you take even one foot on the journey of a thousand steps. The fun is embedded in the process; the joy is available for you right here, right now.
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