Jen Louden, author and speaker, wrote a post about living in the “now.” She spoke of giving up the quest for something greater or something better and being content with life exactly as it is right now. For a moment, it resonated me. I thought to myself, “What if I just stopped striving and focused on living. What would happen if I just accepted the way things are now without counteracting that thought with the way I want things to be.”
As I pondered the thought, it occurred to me that this message isn’t new. It’s one I’ve heard before and implemented in my life many times over again.
You know what happens?
I get zen-ed out for a few months, practicing the habit of living in the moment. All the while, losing focus of the future.
At the heart of success is desire. It’s that burning passion for more, for better, for achieving the impossible that pushes you past everyone you started the race with.
The level of contentment that Jen Louden and many other influential thought leaders have spoken about simply doesn’t work unless it comes naturally.
Otherwise, you’re delaying the inevitable – the moment when you’re sitting there, near tears wondering why you aren’t where you thought you’d be. The shame. The guilt. The self-loathing. It all comes raining down after the zen trance is broken.
Why not embrace the feelings of dissatisfaction? Then, commit to change. Embrace that we usually have control over the things we’re unhappy about.
In her post, Jen suggested welcoming our jiggly thighs without thinking of exercise. But, why? Why not own that I am not happy with the way they are and that I have the power to do something about it?
Is it not more important to commit to action, to change, and of course, to keep dreaming? If you know that you are not living the best version of yourself, why not dig deeper to find that person, rather than accepting life as it is?
I was a small business consultant and even though I yearned to reach more people, it paid well and I trudged on.
The only thing standing in the way was me.
If I didn’t acknowledge that I was dissatisfied, and make an effort to change that, then Sipblack wouldn’t be here today (what a tragedy that would be).
Acknowledge the good, commit to the great
Feelings of disappointment, dissatisfaction, and fear are all healthy emotions. Without fear, how could we identify courage? Without discontent, how would we recognize fulfillment?
Wherever you are right now, be honest about it; both the good and the bad.
If you’re thriving in one area of your business, then celebrate that. If you feel as though you aren’t doing enough, accomplishing enough, own that also and commit to changing that truth.
Start with the definition of “enough.” How much is enough to satisfy you?
What you compete on are the things that you will always strive to be better at. These are the things you will never stop perfecting.
Honing your impulses, by asking “why?”
A lot of the time, we feel confused and scatter-brained because we do things impulsively. We allow our momentary urges to decide our next actions.
Jen ended her post with:
“To open to the life that is here now means I keep stopping as I write this to listen deeply, to feel if I am telling my truth in the best I know how, without veering off to check email or veering back to tinker with words.”
I thought deeply about that sentence, read it over and over again. We all have this problem, of habitually succumbing to our impulses. Doing things sporadically and spontaneously, rather than strategically.
Instead, we should develop a habit of questioning our urges. Let’s take Jen’s example above.
She’s committed to writing an introspective post for her readers, one that offers a fresh perspective on happiness. On the flip side, her impulses are there lurking. They’re telling her to check her email, proofread, change something else. What’s the harm, it will only take a minute.
Rather than denying those impulses, the question should be Why?
What do I hope to gain by perusing my email, what do I expect to be waiting for me? Is that worth more than empowering my readers? Which am I more committed to?
Designing your future comes in the smallest of steps, incredibly tiny changes in the way that you think.
More importantly, it comes from the way that you act on those thoughts.
Questioning every single impulse sounds like a task that’s hard to maintain. But like any good habit, it takes consistency and practice to perfect it.
Darya Rose touched on this so profoundly in her post explaining the “I Don’t Feel Like It” fallacy. It’s a good read, trust me.
Designing your future by consulting with your future
Someone recently asked me, How do you know when you’re making the right decisions? How did you know they would work out?
I initially wanted to tell them that I didn’t know. I almost said that I had no idea whether my plans would work out.
But, that would have been a lie.
The decisions that I have the hardest time making, I usually go to someone very specific for help and guidance. I ask them to make the decision for me if I’m too chicken to make it myself.
That person is me. I ask the Me in five years.
Hey, what should I do? I want to be EXACTLY like you so tell me what you would do in this situation.
Unlike Jen, I’m not completely satisfied with who I am today. And I think that just might be okay. I know I’m better than who I was five years ago, and I know the future me is better than me today.
On the intricate path to success, we are always re-inventing ourselves.
I do agree with Jen, in that we will outgrow our old dreams, we want different things, we let go of desires that once fueled us.
That’s why I stick to five years, and not ten.
No doubt, in ten years I’ll be someone I didn’t expect to be. I’ll live for things that were once unimportant. I’ll be happy somewhere that I may never have imagined would be home.
The journey to designing your life is never a straight line
I don’t completely disagree with Jen’s perspective. I think at some point in our journey – as a person, an entrepreneur, a leader we have to decide, I am okay with where I am.
But, in order for it to work, it has to happen naturally.
I think this might come when you’ve reached your definition of success. Once you’re done designing and are finally living the life you’ve crafted. Then you can be content with who you are, as you are.
Perhaps Jen and the others I’ve heard talk about “living in the moment,” have finally achieved an acceptable level of success.
Perhaps, they can look around and say “I’ve done just about all I’ve set out to do.”
I’m not there yet, so I keep designing my future, over and over again.
I’ll keep committing to greatness, honing my impulses, consulting with my future self, and walking this zig-zag road to success.
Who knows, in ten years – I just may be living in the moment.
Where are you in five years? Let me know in the comments below!