What is it that I want out of life? What do you want out of life? I talked about this last week in my post about the definition of success and wealth, and Sarah Madison just wrote about her own insights into developing her writing life, and my brother is discovering Brene Brown’s work on wholehearted living. Something seems to be going around! 😉
And then recently I read this post over at Mark’s Daily Apple about giving ourselves permission to succeed at what we want. This one really hit home.
My story is unique only in that it is mine; the themes of my life are not particularly unusual, though, especially for the 20th century I grew up in. Some people had it better, some people had it worse. But a huge take-away from my childhood as the daughter of an alcoholic father and an unstable bi-polar mother was that my self-worth was (is) intimately tied to material success, and success was a constantly moving bar I could never quite hit — not pretty enough, not thin enough, not smart enough, not competent enough, etc. This turned into a vicious and counter-intuitive belief that “I’ll be successful when I’m worthy of being successful.”
I don’t know if you see the fallacy there, because I have spent most of my own life missing it. The problem with that mindset is that if you don’t believe you are already worthy of success, you will never be successful. In the end, I have sabotaged effort after effort because I did not think I was allowed to be successful.
Mark’s post asked an interesting thought experiment: “Sit back and play a game for a minute. Imagine yourself in that “optimal” existence (e.g. of health, of vitality, of self-fulfillment). Imagine all the amazing things you could want but think are too lavish for you somehow. Imagine living that very life. Are you getting uncomfortable yet?”
And whoa hey yeah, I was uncomfortable. He goes on to talk about how change requires retraining our minds as well as our bodies (it’s a health/fitness site, so he’s directly addressing diet and exercise, but I think his post applies to a lot more than that) to believe that we can have what we want simply because we want it. It still requires working for it, of course, but allowing myself to think that I am worthy of what I want to have is a huge step for me.
I think qualifying our goals with a healthy dose of pragmatism is a version of down-talking, honestly. By always limiting my goals to reasonable expectations, I could at least line myself for a modicum of success that maybe I might deserve. I don’t think dreaming big necessarily is the same as goal setting, I mean I can dream about winning the lottery every day but that’s not exactly a reasonable goal I can achieve through hard work. That’s just pure luck. But, importantly, part of that luck is playing the game. After all, not buying lottery tickets is a sure-fire way to “prove” I’ll never win the jackpot.
So, my big dream of being a super-best selling author is not something I plan on happening, because that kind of thing is due to dumb luck as much as preparation and effort. But I should stop saying it won’t ever happen, because you know, I’m “buying that ticket” so to speak. I’m writing and putting my work out there, because I am worthy of success, in whatever form it takes. I’m going to imagine my “optimal existence” and do everything in my power to make it happen, and let the wheel spin. I’ll deserve everything I get.