The last couple of weeks, the hot topic of discussion with some of my clients has been around trying to achieve a particular goal. Although the goal, whether personal or professional and the whole context around their current situation differs, at the root there’s a goal they want to achieve to be happier.
Have you been in this position? I sure have. Maybe you’re in this position now.
Now, I’m not about to give you another system to follow that will finally get you to achieve whatever goal you have set for yourself.
I would like to look at the goal itself. Is it really a goal? Why do I want to achieve this goal?
The reason you’re probably struggling is not because of lack of motivation, but because of the goal itself.
Let me share some words of wisdom I was given back in my early twenties while traveling across Italy. At the time, it didn’t really mean much to me and never gave it any attention. But, a seed was planted deep within waiting for me to take notice. It took quite a few years, but when I finally gave it the attention it needed, it bore fruit in my life.
I hope it will plant a seed deep within you.
As I traveled through several small villages in Sicily, Naples and Sardinia, I was marveled over how many locals live till their late 90’s and some actually over 100 years old. I found myself enjoying their company mainly because of the humor they brought in every situation. They had a sense of “joie de vivre” and I was shocked to see them go up hills as if they were stuck in a 30 year old body!
One day, I was seated at a piazza in small village in Naples with some of them. At some point in the conversation, I learned that one of the men had recently turned 100 years old. I could have sworn he was only 80! I turned to him and said, “You look 20 years younger! What’s your secret to living to 100 years old and staying young and happy?”
He started laughing and laughing. I laughed along because I thought his laughter was an expression of receiving a compliment. But after the laughter, he went silent.
But I still wanted to know his secret!
He leaned closer to me, put his hand on my hand, looked me in the eyes and asked, “Why do you want to live till 100?”
Now I went silent.
He leaned back on his chair and continued, “It doesn’t matter how long you live, it’s how you live now that matters. Don’t ever try to follow how someone else is living their life. You will cheat yourself out of living your own life. Don’t ask for the secret to a long and happy life. You’re the only one who can discover it for yourself, not by searching for it, you’ll never find it. But, by living everyday and doing what you’re passionate about.”
He brought his hands to his heart and as he opened them out in the air, he said,
“Do all things with love and you’ll never want to achieve a goal to be happy.
Be happy in the things you’re doing now. Everyday of your life will matter, not whether you live to be 100. If you get there, you get there. But don’t wait for something to happen in your life to be happy. Enjoy life now. If you do everything with love, you will have everything you need to be happy.”
Now try replacing the living to be 100 years old with your goal. Don’t look for an answer. Just stay with it for awhile.
You see, looking back, this man and all the others didn’t wake up one day and decide, “You know, I’m 50 years old, I’m going to set myself a goal and follow a system to live to be 100 years old and be happy.” Living to 100 years old was never the goal. It was the result of living a life with passion in everything they did which gave them the strength to overcome difficulties and obstacles.
Today, that conversation has made me realize and understand something very important. They did not reduce the extraordinary beauty in the whole of life to one single goal in order to be happy.
They had a passion for the whole of life!
In my own life, through my experiences, I learned that wanting to discover, explore and try different things is wonderful. Pursuing a dream, doing something you’ve always wanted is part of living.
I’ve also come to understand that starting from where we are now and the realization that we are already complete as a human being is far more important.
We will not depend on the end result of achieving a goal or a dream to be happy.
It’s not to say we sit back and do nothing. But, from being complete, we will already be filled with purpose and meaning and will give us the vitality to face whatever comes our way along the journey. The journey itself will fill us with excitement and joy, no matter where it leads us instead of waiting for something to happen way out in the future to enjoy living.
We will not depend on others to tell us what to do.
It’s ok to ask for help. It’s ok to ask questions. It’s ok to have someone teach us certain skills or abilities we may be missing but, not at the expense of burying our own unique skills, abilities and strengths.
No one can tell us what our own journey will look like. Our journey will teach us things that cannot be learned by following a method or a system.
Our life journey is our greatest teacher.
Sometimes our walk of life will take us places we never imagined. Sometimes people will come along to teach us life lessons. Sometimes from family and friends. Sometimes from those we least expected. Sometimes from complete strangers.
We may need to take unexpected detours. Things might not end going the way we planned. Obstacles and challenges will come along. We’ll make mistakes and fall many times over. They are all there to serve us and point us back to a place deep within ourselves to find our own answers.
Look at all of them. Look at your current situation and the people in your life. Look deep inside yourself. Ask yourself “How do I receive them? What can I learn from each one?” Your current life situation, whatever or whoever you may be struggling with, is your guide to your own answers and happiness: a happiness that can never be taken away. From here, look at your goal. Is it really a goal?
“I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.” – Jim Carrey