It’s week four of the Shattering the Meme Novena. Especially in a recession economy, which focusses on lack and limits, our focus must shift to releasing judgement of ourselves and others in order to be more open to the possibilities that come from less rigid thinking.
How well do you know yourself? Your real interests and capabilities? I bet they are in there buried down deep, disconnected from what you actually do for a living, expressed maybe as a hobby, or maybe not at all. Today, I would like you to ask yourself why. Why are you so disconnected from what you really love to do? Go, on, give all your reasons. I’ll bet you have some really good ones. Masterful rationalizations, all. So good in fact, that I bet you have never even attempted to set any of the things that would help you realize your dream life in motion. Or maybe you did in a halfhearted way, since you didn’t want to take that much risk or invest that strongly in something that wasn’t going to work out anyway. Yeah.
What you have actually done without even realizing it was to edit opportunity right out of your life, just as a surgeon would excise a tumor. You never truly explored the possibilities or made many plans. You just knew you couldn’t or shouldn’t go in that direction. What an insidious meme, the one that leaves us subconsciously longing and always suppressed, all the while believing that we are better off just doing what life expects of us.
Judge and Jury
When I work with coaching clients, this is often the biggest hurdle I find. As a first step, I encourage them to do some very introspective work to get clarity about what they love to do and attach that to the reason they want to do it. Then I ask them why they are not doing it already. That is a profound question. The answer, when you stop to think about, it is that you are not allowing yourself. This lack of permission comes wrapped in all kinds of reasons that seem valid until you dig a little deeper. Things like, “I have too many responsibilities right now to spend the money it would take to get set up,” or “The market for that is too small to really allow me to earn a living.” When I ask my clients how they know that those outcomes will occur if they allow themselves to explore a particular passion, they often have no answer. They just know. Because their conditioning (education, early childhood, work experience) told them so. Before they even allowed the idea to be fully formed and vetted, all on their own, they shut it down. Deemed it unworthy of seeing the light of day.
Make the investment
It can be scary to follow your heart. But you need to think about all the things you are losing by not doing so. What is your happiness worth? What does the stress you are experiencing right now doing work that doesn’t serve you cost in terms of your health and well-being? What does the rat race do to your quality of life, or that of your family? In economic terms, this is called the opportunity cost. What you choose to forgo by playing it safe. Playing is safe also prevents you from receiving the big payoff in every dimension of your life that comes from living with passion and purpose. Clients, employers, members of your network, will all notice you in a much more positive way once you choose to invest in acquiring the skill and experience you need to do the work that you really love instead of the work that gets fed to you by default. When you look at all of the costs of playing it safe (physical, mental and spiritual), it becomes obvious just how precarious of a position you put yourself in by staying stuck instead of making the bold moves towards living your true life’s purpose. Playing it safe isn’t so safe after all.
Beat back the lack
We can all fall prey to focusing on what we don’t have. Especially in this economy, where we are faced with constant bad news, it’s easy to believe that we need to hold back instead of charging forward. We want to conserve instead of expand. To carefully guard our reserves, whether time, money or networking capital “just in case.” Well, the rainy day is happening right now if you are anything but fulfilled and purpose-driven in your life and career. The stress of trying to maintain the status quo is what makes you feel like you and what you have to offer will never be enough. Believing that there just isn’t opportunity to be had becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. What’s needed instead is to look at what you have to offer and to whom it will make a difference. Sharing what you have to offer starting right now and making a difference in the world is far more important than holding back. I liken this thinking to refusing to make a $20.00 donation to your favorite charity because you want to wait until you get rich and can give them an endowment. It’s kind of ridiculous when you look at it in those terms, isn’t it? Every little contribution you make does make a difference. What’s more, is that they add up and propel you forward.
Shatter the meme:
The number one regret of the dying as reported by nurses who cared for hospice patients was that they had not lived a life true to themselves, but instead tried to meet everyone else’s expectations. Allow yourself to think about who you really are and what you really want, even if it seems ridiculous or frivolous. Play with the thought, get comfortable with it instead of immediately filing it away because you can’t see the path to achieve it. In fact, banish all thoughts of “how” and just focus on why you have this dream. The more you can get in touch with what motivates you, the easier it will become to not only see opportunities, but to fearlessly pursue them. Then, choose to take action. Once you do, you will be surprised at all of the opportunities that start to come your way related to your true life’s purpose. It’s not a miracle, they were always available to you, but now you no longer have them painted over with wite out.