I have to admit. This quote confused me for a long time. Because … DUH.
But then I made this friend who had some serious problems. I tried, as friends do, to “help” her. One good strategy she had was to travel to escape what was going on back home. She went to the most exotic places & had some seriously enviable adventures. But her problems … the same exact ones! … literally seemed to follow her, even replicate themselves, wherever she went.
Maybe you can relate?
This has a lot to do with our lives as businesspeople and entrepreneurs, because I believe a lot of us are achieving ourselves into the wrong thing.
Is Your Ladder Against the Wrong Building?
A lot of people work hard day-to-day towards something that is aligned neither with their life’s purpose, nor their values. The result: Death-of-a-Salesman-style, they work to achieve “big goals” … but they end up sacrificing their health, their relationships, their ability to sleep at night or other big things they value.
If you’re a workaholic, you might be surprised to learn that quantitative data uncovered by Brendan Burchard, author of High Performance Habits shows the highest performers also value their own well-being more than any other demographic measured.
“I expected that these folks would be more stressed, their health would be more compromised, they would feel lonely at the top,” Burchard says. “I was wrong.”
Compared to their peers, Burchard’s study found that high performers:
- Are less stressed
- Are healthier
- Are 40% more likely to exercise 3-5x per week
- Report higher levels of happiness
- Report having more positive relationships
It then starts to make sense that these people are high performers. It sounds like they have the ability to not only take care of bizz-nas, but care for themselves, even love what they do! This has everything to do with how they align what they are doing day-to-day with their life’s purpose.
The Evolution of Goals: Stepping into the Unknown
These high performers also understand: our “big goals” can be at odds with the exact activities we are doing to achieve them.
Here’s an example: I used to work hard for months training to compete in an event like a running race or a triathlon. As soon as the race or event was over though, I’d stop training. My only goal had been to cross the finish line in a certain amount of time (or for some events, at all). So once I completed the race, my goal was no longer there to motivate me. I’d stop training altogether, or go on a frantic search for the next competition “high.” Maybe you can relate. It was an endless cycle of fits and starts. A pendulum, if you will. I even ended up injuring myself as a result. (But … silver lining! … this injury ended up being the reason I decided to take a break from running and rediscovered yoga, a practice which is forcing me to be more mindful in everything I do.)
I often need to remind myself to stay open to new possibilities, but taking a chance or stepping into the unknown can be a scary place. It’s the realm where things could go wrong. It’s the place where anything could happen, things are unpredictable, even out of control. BUT!!! It’s also where the magic can happen! (If we let it!)
By nature I’m detail-oriented and a planner. But even when I’m dead-set on something happening, I’ve learned I have to stay open to the possibilities and opportunities. When I get stuck on what I think are “goals,” or too attached to specifics, I can undermine the whole damn thing. My personal power place is in executing ideas, for both my family and my clients. But if I’m not mindful, I can suck out the joy, fun and adventure, even ensure “peak moments” don’t happen. When I get super-obsessed with the outcome, I turn discipline into a workhorse. Instead of showing up for myself and my dreams in a gentle way, I get hard-headed and sabotage things, like my kids’ enthusiasm about schoolwork, sports or hobbies. I completely squash my team’s creativity on a project at work. I make sure a social outing doesn’t happen … if I’m too fixated on a certain outcome. Because I’ve completely killed the mood! (And isn’t that all we’re ever really after? A mood or feeling?)
For my clients who are used to being in charge, it can be difficult to draw the line between being too heavy-handed, bringing stress into their “big goals”, and being proactive and taking responsibility for them. It can feel terrifying to simply let things happen, particularly when the stakes are high—when you care about something so deeply that it feels like a piece of you.
Pushing vs. Allowing
“You get to choose, everyday, to be pushed by fear … or pulled by love. Sometimes it appears that the outcome is the same. But when you’re pushed, it’s what’s ahead of you that’s scary … that’s being resisted. And when you’re pulled? The promise of what’s to come is so magnetic that nothing behind you has any power. Fear and excitement often feel the same in our bodies … the choice is yours.”
A friend posted the above on Instagram recently, and it hit me like a ton of bricks.
If you like me are trying to find the middle ground between pushing and allowing, I’ve found these mindset shifts immensely helpful:
- Accept that things may not go according to plan.
- Remember that you can’t control what other people do. You can only control who you choose to be, and who you choose to trust. You can’t guarantee a specific outcome, but you can do your best to enable an effective process.
- Be shaped by your goal. Obstacles to getting what you want will definitely come up. Learn and let those obstacles shape your desires, intentions, and efforts.
- Let go of fear around not achieving your goal! If you keep going, good things will happen—both now and tomorrow—even if you can’t predict or control exactly what those good things are. Even if you don’t achieve your exact goal.
- Remember to be mindful of your health, well-being and relationships. Manage your energy wisely. High performers always do, so you’ll be in good company!
- Use positive self-talk to motivate yourself, and stick to the process instead of the outcome.
While my heart broke for my friend who continually ran away from her problems … only to find them in another way, shape or form in her new environment … she was one of my life’s greatest teachers. I will always remember the clarity I finally had about this cryptic quote when I think of her. Changing my location or my situation, achieving that next goal, acquiring that next shiny new object … none of it really matters unless I am grounded in peace, love, gratitude and total acceptance of myself, and things as they are. Right now.
Because that person you try to avoid will be there, around every corner, in all the quiet places, always waiting to talk to you. Will you greet her with a cold shoulder, or a loving embrace?
Food for thought:
Wherever you go … where are you?
In what areas of your life could you stop pushing and start allowing?