Successful but Unfulfilled?
Many of my clients have been "successful" in the eyes of the world around them, but when honest with themselves, they're looking for something new...
I’ve coached and consulted people with all different backgrounds – small business owners, corporate business people, teachers, athletes, writers, delivery truck drivers, male, female, couples with kids and without, singles and people from all different countries.
Consistently, and regardless of the person’s profession, gender, nationality or religion, there is a lack of clarity on WHY they do what they do. I’ll explain…
As you will experience with me during one of our first few sessions, I’ve asked every client the following sets of questions (or something similar but related to your life and desired change).
What is your occupation?
Are you in a relationship, and if so with whom?
What are your religious and/or spiritual beliefs?
Second set (following answers to the first set):
WHY is your occupation or job what it is?
WHY are you in the relationship you are, with the person you are? Or why aren’t you in a relationship?
WHY do you believe what you believe about spirituality and/or religion?
With very few exceptions, most of the people I worked with admitted, “I don’t really love what I do. I do it because I have to.” The thought “I have to…” was an aggregation of various obligations and basic desire for security earned by making the mortgage payment, putting food on the table, or meeting spousal expectations. As unromantic as it sounds, the responses to “why are you in the relationship you are in?” was similar – most people were staying in mediocre relationships that they wished would get better. Religious faith (or lack of) fell into two primary categories: 1) people subscribed to whatever their family of origin did or 2) people completely resist their familial religion and have selected the exact opposite (many times agnosticism or atheism). “Fair enough,” is always my response because this makes sense.
What happened next surprised me the first several dozen times I heard it, until it became so consistent. Without me asking , my clients exclaimed, “…but if I could do it all over again, I would…” Then they completed the sentence with statements like “wait longer to get married,” “ have travelled more,” “have created a business around something I’m passionate about” or “have learned more about who I really am before making these huge choices.” They explained that they were very different people at 30 than 20…at 45 versus 30…and 60 from 45. One even said, “I’m winning the rat race, but I’m still a rat!”
I’ve made many of these same observations in myself.
“Why don’t you make changes now?” I asked. Nearly all of them referenced a “little voice inside” that also asks them that same question everyday. They told me they’ve tried to ignore it, feeling overwhelmed with plenty on their plate already, and hoped it would go away.
The reason that voice hasn’t gone away is because it’s far more than just a “little voice inside!” I think it’s an organic guidance system requesting your attention.
To be fair, not everybody has that same challenge. I worked with a minority of passionate, inspiring individuals who were authentically connected to what they woke up and did everyday—to their professions, their families and their adventures. There is a different challenge among that group—how to continue what they love doing with a financial sustainability or “without running out of money,” they told me. Most hadn’t yet found a way to do both.
There were also those, similar to me, that had “achieved” what they originally set out to do—primarily based in what they were told was “right,” or driven by unconscious, conditioned reactions to life. Whether they were business moguls, famous entertainers or soccer moms, they later experienced the same bedevilment I did. They were “accomplished,” some even revered by their fans and communities, but they weren’t truly joyful or fulfilled. Even with the success, status and monetary wealth achieved, it had not been created with a deep knowing of WHY they did what they did. During our work together, we learned that many of the business people had been driven by insecurity rather than an inspiration to provide a product or service. Many of the public figures simply followed the paths of their parents. Even the parents I worked with often admitted that at least part of the reason they moved so quickly to have children was to feel more fulfilled, rather than building a family with a partner they believed was their best friend.
In some people, this lack of Awareness will manifest in regular bursts of frustration or breakdowns with drugs and alcohol. In others it is far subtler but it is still there. Countless clients share they are taking anti-depressants or other prescription drugs for anxiety and sleep problems. I observed the repeated pattern of “Thank God It’s Friday” or ‘TGIF” where people attempt to release the repressed, accumulated issues from the week by going unconscious during happy hours and overconsumption during nightlife. I know this well…I did this for many years too, and often tried to stretch Friday into three full days before repeating the weekly cycle on Monday.
Is life really a cycle of realizing what we “should have done differently,” self-judgment, self-medication and suffering? If you’ve experienced part of this you already know it triggers a HUGE question, “is this all there is?”
It’s a scary question to ask. It requires openness to the possibility that our identities in our families, occupations, and communities might not be what life is all about. What if all those labels are just the details of your life, but there’s actually a level of consciousness and experience that you have yet to move into? What if that “little voice inside” is offering you direction but you’re not quite sure how to discern its messages from all your other thoughts? What if you feel crazy for even confirming you have a little voice inside?
If you relate this experience and know you want to have a new experience, reach out to me. Change and Transition begin with the awareness that you want something different than what you have now. I have custom developed tools to identify the beliefs that got you to where you are today, help you discern which beliefs and life circumstances are still true for you, and take the necessary steps to build the life you become clear you want.