Someone asked what kept me going. And it took a while to explain the process to myself and to put labels to the actions and emotions which accompanied me.
I used to have goals, clear and bold hovering ahead of me. Goals I was determined to attain. These goals loomed large, reminding me of their persistent existence. I evaluated the right-ness, the perfect-ness of each decision or step along the way, determined to reach those goals. Ironically these goals I committed to hindered me from taking the next necessary steps. Doubts and fears permeated. I worried if ‘it’ was the right decision, if ‘it’ was the best choice, if ‘it’ was most efficient action.
So for many years, I played it safe. I did not make any moves unless I was certain (almost) I had them right, after I had verified they would be the best way to reach those goals I set many years before.
It took considerable time before I realised the “right decisions” and “right steps” were not right in the moment. I was travelling back into the future. The decisions or steps were geared towards achieving then old and already expired goals. I did not stop in those moments to contemplate the possibility of reconsidering these goals but doggedly followed them, too stubborn to let them go.
Ever wonder why you keep going to the same hairstylist for decades, or staying in the marriage long after it expired, or feeling reluctant to leave a career, or refusing to entertain alternatives because you had decided to have Japanese for dinner, or… even though you were feeling dissatisfied?
Well, the steps were not “wrong” but they were rigid and inappropriate for those moments. In each moment I could have tried something new, taken a different route, adapted what I was doing, and most importantly, reevaluated my goals. I did not seize the moment because I wasn’t in that moment, rather I was trying to reach a future which no longer served me.
Now years later, I no longer have goals, at least not those which are externally validating. I live by a set of values which accompany and inform me in the moments when a decision needs to be made or a step to be taken.
What keeps me going? The knowledge that I am living my values in the best possible way, now.
So I ask myself,
Is this right for now? Does this decision or step accord with my values? Will I like myself after it?
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