It seems that there’s two divergent camps when it comes to strategies for living.
I’ve been getting a lot of feedback from people lately about this topic. I’ve written a whole series about following your dreams, then recently switched gears to writing about topics from the second camp. Some people have naturally been confused by this and one reader had this to say:
“I was just browsing the blog again, and I noticed things used to be all “You can do anything if you really want to” and “Dream big” and all, but lately it’s more like “Kill your goals,” “Stop caring” and “Give up.”
I can really see why people might get confused about this. I think the biggest problem is that people think “doing anything you want” and “giving up” are conflicting. Makes sense to me. The first is a very positive statement; the second seems negative.
Here’s the thing, though: it’s all about context.
If you have big dreams and a “go for it all” mindset, that’s awesome. But if you have the wrong kind of goals (usually ego-driven, instead of heart centered) you probably won’t succeed. And if you do, you’ll probably feel mildly fulfilled for a little while, but you’ll naturally end up craving another achievement.
Achievement (something intentionally positive) becomes an addiction. However, if you set heart driven goals, get really clear about them, and start taking action, you’ll feel a much different response. You’ll be naturally motivated.
Looking at the opposite side of the coin, giving up, killing your goals, and all of these seemingly negative decisions can be really positive. You can give up on things that don’t serve you. You can give up on goals driven by the fleeting desires of your ego. You can stop caring about things that really don’t matter, like pleasing others and trying to be perfect.
Of course, giving up on your dreams and what’s dear to your heart isn’t right either.
The difference is the context and making decisions from your heart.
Here’s the problem and it’s something I, myself, have struggled with…
Even heart-centered decisions can become unintentionally muddled with ego-driven conditioning.
I’ll just use myself as a quick example. I’m currently working on a book. It’s about reclaiming your dreams, and I talk about many of the principles this blog focuses on. Overall, I really believe in the stuff this book brings to the table. I think there are a lot of ideas and exercises (yes, actual actionable items, not just mental masturbation) that have been missing from this field. Some of them are just really cool things I’ve learned from other people, too, that I think deserve to be repeated.
So, as I’ve been writing this book — which is very authentic, and done with the intention of providing genuine value — I’ve gotten my ego caught up in it.
What if it’s a total failure? What if I make no money? I need to write x amount of pages every day. I need to do this and that in order for me to feel like I created something really grand, so people can stroke my ego until it balloons and explodes on itself.
All of these thoughts are my ego muddling my original and very authentic endeavor. I’ll be honest with you… it’s very hard not to do this. It’s damn hard, really.
The worst part is that it completely ruins things that should be fun and enjoyable. That’s not to say there won’t be times where things will be hard, or you’ll have to push yourself, you will. But usually you can do this by re-centering yourself on your heart-driven purpose.
It takes guts to do this. Sometimes it means dropping projects that you put a lot of work into. Work that you thought was meaningful, but really wasn’t. Probably because you were listening to someone else’s ideas of what meaning is.
What I’ve found is that organizing is great. Killing your goals, not caring, and giving up can do wonders for your success rate. Having big, massive, bulleted point plans with detailed to-do lists is fine, too.
What really matters is that that is where your heart lies.
If you thrive on details and really clear-cut goals with numbers you can quantify, more power to you. There’s no reason you should disengage from that if it truly makes you come alive. If you lean more toward being laid back, letting the cards fall where they may and using intention, values, and aspirations, you should keep that.
Just be heart-centered. Whenever you get off track, go back to your heart.
This might mean removing a lot of the background noise from your life. It could mean turning off the TV, ignoring your parents, peers, and co-workers. It might mean doing some real soul searching. You might have to go out to the desert on a vision quest, or do a walkabout. Whatever it takes, you can’t afford not to do this.
What this all comes down to (and the reason for the title of this post) is that life is pretty messy. You’ll probably never have everything figured out in advance. You probably won’t be able to create a complete step-by-step plan for your dreams because you won’t know what they are until you get there. You can’t calculate your heart’s desires. Sure, you can create a spreadsheet for your finances, how many calories and carbs you intake, but you just can’t do that with your heart.
That’s because your heart is kind of a messy place. All the roads within it aren’t straight, parallel, and perpendicular. Sometimes they’re more like spaghetti.
In fact, you probably won’t know its path until you start walking. So maybe it’s better to embrace the mess and the discord. At least that’s what I’m learning to do… constantly moving and realigning with the direction of my heart.
Join me? Us dreamers could use some company.