The path you're on
When we know what we want, our choices are more intentional, part of a larger plan and direction.“Listen — are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?” Mary Oliver
I overheard a woman talking to a friend in the coffee shop this morning. She was looking to make some changes. She’s feeling frustrated and resigned. She doesn’t know what’s wrong, really, but… she’s not feeling it.
Life just isn’t quite something enough.
It’s not just me who’s hearing this. And it’s not just her who’s saying it.
We’re surrounded by it. Every day. And I’m not talking about the negative Nellies or constant complainers. I’m talking about a way of being in our lives that has become so pervasive that most of us don’t even question it. We commiserate.
It sounds like this:“I have no idea when life became so crazy-busy.” “Where did these extra pounds come from?” “I just don’t know where the money goes.” “I wish I had the time to do something fun.” “Someday, maybe I will take that vacation.” “Who has the time to eat healthy?”
But the hard truth is that we do have the time.
We have the same amount of time as everyone else, and we’re the ones who get to decide how we will use it.
Our money doesn’t just leave the bank and spend itself.
We choose what we eat and whether we’re doing things that make our bodies feel healthy or unhealthy.
But when we’re sleepwalking through our daily life, it might not seem that way.
It might seem as though life just continually happens to us. It might seem as if all of this is beyond our control. It might seem a lot easier to share our excuses than to own our actions and our results.
We convince ourselves: “Well, that’s life.” That’s not very satisfying. And deep down, we know it’s not true.
So each year around this time, we resolve that next year will be different. We’re taking control. We set goals (and sometimes we even try to bully ourselves into achieving them).
What I’ve learned is that setting goals or making resolutions without connecting them to a larger vision is like building a fabulous bedroom with no house attached.
Ultimately, it’s just not going to be of much use. We can’t live there.
This is why so many of us feel jaded about resolutions and why goal-setting can seem so hard.
It’s why, when I talk about going on vacation or working on a fun new project or getting a massage, every now and then someone responds by saying they want my life. (Or my favorite: “well, it must be nice.”)
Well, yeah. It is nice to take good care of oneself and to plan and do the things that light you up. That’s part of why I’ve designed those things into my life. Those people don’t want my life. They want to love their life more.
It’s absolutely true that taking an active and thoughtful approach to your life can change everything.
Spending a little time to get to know yourself and your thoughts and what you really want gives you the raw materials to design what truly matters to you and start creating more of that.
Years ago, while on a writing weekend retreat at a zen center, I saw this sign that read, simply: Wake up!
I didn’t know the first thing about zen, but I got a crash course that weekend. And when I left, I felt more present. More, well, awake.
Eventually, I found ways to stay more awake for my life. To be actively present and accountable for it. My favorite ones are visioning, mapping and goal setting. (You thought I was going to say meditation, right? That doesn’t hurt either.)
Being awake and intentionally setting a vision and a plan won’t make your life perfect.
But it will absolutely help you to get more of what you want and less of what you don’t. Creating a vision and a life map can be fun. Empowering, even.
When we’re intentional about our planning, we can step back from the day-to-day and take a closer look at what we want, what motivates us, what’s working and not working in our life.
This is what helps us to shut out the noise and define things like success and balance for ourselves.
This is what gives us standards by which to measure the choices we’re making. This tells us which path we’re walking.
(Yes, decision-making just got much simpler.)
When we know what we want, our choices are more intentional, part of a larger plan and direction. One that inspires us, feels like us and pulls us forward into achieving the goals that we decide to work towards.
I’ll take that over a silly New Year’s resolution any day.
Give it a go. Here are a few questions to get started:
What do you need to feel and be at your best?
What’s an absolute yes and what’s a resounding no?
Are there parts of the past that need to be resolved?
What is it that you truly want in your life?
I’d love to hear more about what you’re thinking.