In the pursuit of happiness, balance, ambition and a meaningful life, we can sometimes take things too far.
In one week I had ran a red light at one of my city’s most notorious camera violation intersections which will cost me $110.00. I forgot that I was giving a live webinar that had been scheduled for 6 months 2.5 hours before the start time, and I cost myself $75 in fees for failing to transfer money from one account to another account per my banking agreement. What exactly was going on? How can I be so organized and yet fudge up so badly? What was the lesson to be learned from all of this?
My schedule hasn’t changed…I haven’t added any additional responsibilities…I’m not even behind on laundry! If I feel like I’m going to be even 1 minute late somewhere I start to panic and rush…yet I’m never late. So where is all of my panicky absentmindedness stemming from??
It’s the Drive.
The laser focused ambition to have IT happen…the big GET. The boom. The raise, the promotion, the recognition, the accolades, the payoff from the investment, the standing ovation. It’s the constant comparison of what’s lacking in the right now in favor of what’s coming sometime in the future.
When weird things keep happening yet nothing major is wrong, it’s all signs to pause. Rest. Initiate self-care. Re-evaluate. Let shit go.
When we drive, push, strive and run all of the time, constantly straining our necks to look over the grassy knoll a head of us, we are missing out on THE NOW and the now is all that really matters.
The Buddhist practice mindfulness because 1. The past is done and gone forever. Thinking too much about it brings on depression. And 2. The future is unknown and not promised to us. Thinking too much about that brings in the anxiety. The present is all that we are actually guaranteed so long as we are live. Yet, I had been squandering that gift in my blind ambition.
I know that it is important to make a flexible plan for the future, but when that planning is done, it’s dually important to enjoy the moment. To revel in stillness, to allow the Divine to flow in and through you. It is of no mistake that all of the greatest minds in our past and present society meditate. It’s not only where you get your inspiration, its also where you let your mind rest.
Time management, organization, making decisions, going after opportunities, dreaming up opportunites, and driving towards becoming who we want to be in this world all takes exuberant energy, diligence, fortitude, planning, and evaluation. However, the expelling of inspiration and energy without renewal will eventually dry the well. What good is time management if you don’t use the time that you’ve created for yourself to rest and reflect.
When it comes to deeply ambitious drive – the kind that hurts your very essence that you haven’t been named Forbes top 40 under 40, and haven’t written 3 New York Times #1 best sellers that Oprah has raved about – it’s time to sit down and hardily evaluate what you really want out of life, and take stock at how far you’ve come despite your unaccounted for desires.
Have you even done anything that would warrant those kinds of accolades? If so, have you stayed focused to see it all the way through? Do you even want those things…or do you really just want your parents to tell you that they are proud of you and mean it? Often we scale daily life in search of deep acceptance through external recognition or worse, shiny expensive things that we can’t afford. This is where Drive can actually drive you nuts.
I decided to just stop while I was ahead. I stopped pushing myself so hard and lowered the tempo. For the holiday week I did a bunch of lounging and a ton of couch snuggles with Dylan watching movies. I didn’t worry about my “next move” or my “hustle”, I decided to take a look around in each moment at the life that I’ve created thus far. You know what I found? Magic. Magic that had been created from my past “hustle” and blind ambition. I occurred to me that if life never changed at all from this day forward, I would be fine with that. All that I need and love is right in front of me and thank God I had those series of strange days to force me to slow down…or I might have missed more of it.
Ambition and drive are needed attributes of living a good and whole life. But they’re just like alcohol – best in moderation over a long period of time. Consistency and patience in anything pays off and since being in the NOW requires both, refocus your drive there. The past is fully behind us, and our future gets written one moment at a time; what we do in the NOW matters more than what we are going to do later.