Most of us avoid the task of life planning because we feel that it is not in our control, that our environment has more control over us than we have over it. Or we feel that it may involve risks, risks that could lead to disappointment or failure. Or we’d rather not ask the tough questions because we don’t welcome a forced analysis of our lives.
No doubt, this is a difficult process. But unfortunately, if we don’t plan to live our own life, then somebody else or our external environment will do it for us. We should ask ourselves if our life is something we want to give up so easily. We must revere the sanctity of our life and vigorously protect the right to plan our future as we choose.
Life is not a dress rehearsal. It will go on, with or without us. We do have the choice to make it as meaningful and as purposeful as we choose it to be. Planning our lives and then living our lives according to that plan should not be an option. We really have no other choice if we want to realize the life that we deserve and expect. Let’s take some time to make that happen.
All of life transformation and self-renewal is embodied in the process of relieving the tension between the reality we have now and the reality we aspire to. For instance, if we are overweight, we feel the tension between our current self-image and a projected self-image. If we are not happy in our job or career, our anxiety tells us that something needs to be done about it. If we are feeling tired and physically unfit, we sense the need to exercise, sleep more and improve our diet.
In virtually every aspect of our lives, there is a perceived gap between where we are and where we want to be. This gap is a void we must fill to make life more significant and meaningful. If we let the gap widen, we feel more tension and frustration. By not attempting to close the gap, we are passively allowing life to happen to us. But by taking action to bridge the realities of what we have versus what we want, we are taking charge and making life happen.
This process of closing the gap brings our behavior in alignment with our purpose and our values. By knowing what we are here for and what is most important to us we gain clarity of our current reality. We can see exactly what is missing, what expectations are not being met, and we will become compelled to take action and redraft our future reality. We can then literally make our life what we want it to be!
Our objective should not be to eliminate all unhappiness but rather to balance it with increased opportunity for joy. Buddha may have reminded us, A hundred loves, a hundred losses. No loves, no losses, but are we prepared to abandon the potential for love because we fear the potential for loss?
Would there be any value in giving up our rights to search for a single sliver of happiness because we must first dig through a mountain of sadness to locate it? For that matter, would we not search for truth because it is hidden among deceit? Or would we not seek honor because we feel that it is surrounded by contempt? Or not seek courage because it is covered with cowardice? Or not seek morality because it is shrouded within an immoral society?
Happiness is ours to discover despite the deterrents that stand in our way; it is our human right to be elated despite a world that flagrantly flaunts its despairing side. Our purpose, therefore, is to strive toward a sense of internal peace within ourselves.
This does not mean that we will live in perfect contentment but rather we will be contented with ourselves. The difference is that the former implies an unrealistic, stress free state of consciousness while the latter implies that we are in conscious control of our state of gratification.
We will feel it is possible to rise above the vagaries of unhappiness that may surround us. We will resist the feeling of being dragged into a maelstrom of discontentment because we will see ourselves as the calm center of the storm. And our joy will abound through our sense of calm purpose being recognized and lived through our daily actions. Inner peace then becomes our right and our choice.
For some baffling reason, we have gotten caught up in an insatiable need for more stuff – from clothes, cars, houses, electronic gadgets, toys, furniture and fixtures to new hairdos, pedicures and tummy tucks. We want to possess everything imaginable and never seem to be content anymore with the basics. According to comedian George Carlin, we even need to own stuff to put our stuff into. We like to take our stuff with us wherever we go, and when we get there we have to buy more stuff so we can take it home to be with other stuff!
Our fascination with stuff, however, is not the problem. It is the lifestyle that we must pursue to acquire, maintain and manage our stuff. All of this stuff is the antithesis to a sane, balanced and purposeful life. While we tend to believe that our happiness emanates from our possessions it is, in fact, these same possessions that become the bane and curse to a joyful and meaningful life. According to Elaine St. James, Wise men and women in every major culture throughout history have found that the secret to happiness is not in getting more but in wanting less. Only when we make it our purpose to not make stuff the measure of our contentment, will we truly understand how simply beautiful (and beautifully simple) life can be lived.
Our Purpose, our Values, and our Behavior must all work together in balance, congruently with each other. Applying this paradigm to our lives requires us to view the total picture. We cannot be successful if we focus only on one component of our lives while forsaking another. Our Behavior must be congruent with our Values, but our Values must be congruent with each other. They are all interdependent, each working synergistically with the other. It’s not either/or, it’s and.
The universal nature of balance works in our life mysteriously and subliminally. Because of natural laws, equilibrium will always find itself, whether we are talking about the planets, the weather or even the forces that work within our minds and bodies. If we do not approach our life’s balance from a holistic perspective, then our life will ultimately seek its own balance, sometimes with serious consequences.
Fortunately, we are given ample opportunities to live a balanced life before nature does it for us. We receive numerous warning signs when we ignore the laws of balance. We will know when our life is out of kilter because of the stress and anxiety we generate within ourselves. We will feel the effects on our health, our relationships or even our careers when we are overemphasizing one aspect of our life at the expense of another. The key for us is to recognize these incongruities and correct them before they have to correct themselves. Our opportunity is to be in charge, fixing the problem before natural laws do it for us . . . As they always will!
Most of us can recall those times when we succeeded due to the impact of a mentor, a guidance counselor or perhaps an understanding spouse who was by our side as we undertook some personal endeavor. But we can also recall those instances where we endeavored to go forth alone and then gave up because we lacked the direction and support we needed. We found ourselves stuck in a place we didn’t belong but also didn’t have the encouragement or advice to get ourselves unstuck.
Imagine having a supportive partner in those situations where we lacked the resources, both mental and emotional, to stay on the right path. Recent research has shown that simply stating goals are largely ineffective, writing them down had only slightly better results, but having a partner proved by far the highest success rate in goal achievement.
Examples of this working partnership could include: job hunting or changing careers, learning a new skill, writing a novel, becoming a better speaker or listener, starting a business or planning retirement, getting out of debt, dealing with a difficult workplace issue, breaking a bad habit or making a significant lifestyle change.
The list is endless of possible scenarios where having a trusted partner on your side would have made all the difference. Going it alone is certainly an option, but consider how well that has worked for you in the past. If you truly want to stay the course this time and ensure your success it is okay to admit that you could use some serious help. Find your trusted partner who will support you and you will have much greater success in making it happen.
We often don’t appreciate the quality and value of our lives because our vision is too limited or even blocked. To see our real possibilities we must see it from a new viewpoint, much like Robin Williams offered his students in the movie, The Dead Poets Society. When he asked all of the students to get up and stand on their desks, they came to realize that their previous views had changed, that everything looked different from their higher perspective. In order for us to transform to lives of greater significance, we must change our point of view, to see our lives from a different and higher perspective.
To achieve what we most desire requires us to make giant leaps of faith in ourselves. This requires confidence in our beliefs and the courage to take the first step. Having resolute courage combined with deep enthusiasm and supreme self-confidence will make us virtually unstoppable.
Our obstacles will become illusions if we then choose to never give up. And if we happen to fail along the way, we should treat it as our sustenance for continual and recommitted effort. If we then remain determined to go boldly and steadfastly no challenge will be able to withstand this onslaught.
Having a clear Purpose is the catalyst for the courage, perseverance and self-confidence we need and it will give us the inner conviction to stay the course. Maintaining a clear Vision of where we want to go in life will give us the strength to never give up when the going gets difficult.
This is the only blueprint for making everything we want in life a reality. It is our choice as to whether or not we will have the courage and the perseverance to realize it.