“There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way.” Thich Nhat Hanh
The closing act of another year.
I hope you have had time for reflection and are not too busy running around buying presents and preparing for special time with family and friends. I like to take time in December to review the past year, to think about the good and the bad and make time for thinking about the year to come.
2015 has been a very busy year for me. I have written my second book Productivity for Dummies, due for release December 28th and I have been studying for a Masters in Business. At the beginning of 2015 I didn’t set goals, my goals were clear. I had a deadline for my book and regular deadlines for assignments for my studies. There wasn’t much time for anything else. I kept my focus on my two main goals. It wasn’t in the plan to study while writing a book, but I had signed up for studying when Wiley Publishing approached me to write the book. I could hardly say no!
The week after I finished the book, I got sick. A stomach bug, nothing too serious but the following week another stomach flu, followed by a cold and 6 weeks later when I tried to shift a chest infection I realised it was all related, (yes a little slow I know!). I had pushed myself to finish the book on time and still deliver my college work on time and of a certain standard. I had pushed too far.
Sometimes life doesn’t give us another option, we have to work, look after family and keep pushing until our body tells us to stop. We should probably listen sooner, take the time to stop and refresh, revive ourselves to work again. What we can do is stop trying so hard. The minute I finished my book my mind went into overdrive thinking about what to spend my newly acquired free time on. So many things I want to achieve, projects I would like to start, books I would like to write, what should come next?
Time to Let go…….
Letting go is something that doesn’t come easy to me. I have an natural tendency to push myself forward, to stay busy, active and doing always. It’s not that I don’t know how to relax, I’m good at that too but only when I have achieved something of merit, only when the job is done.
Some say that letting go is where we find ourselvses, letting go from the push, the struggles, the constant pressure to do more, do better. I’m going to try to let go in 2016. Try to enjoy the achievements of the past few years and instead of going out to look for it I’m going to let it come. But of course as one of hero’s reminds us:
“Do or do not, there is no try” Yoda from Starwars
I am going to let go, let go of the desire to always be doing and step into the world of being. Being mindful of what surrounds me, mindful of what I have to be grateful for.
Now that all sounds great and romantic but how is it done in practise?
Other than the obvious goal of finishing my studies I am setting two goals this year. One for business and one for personal. This is how I will keep my focus and ensure the goals get done while not trying so hard. I do still believe goal setting is an important process, one that helps you get focused on what you want out of life, but it can also make some people try too hard and forget about living life for today. Try to minimise the number of goals that you set. One big goal can be broken down into monthly milestones to achieve it which will keep you busy for the year. Like writing a book or running a marathon they won’t happen without forming the habits that will get you there.
Positive habits are key to a lot of goals and sometimes the mastering of one habit is enough to change your life for the better. Exercise can be the catalyst for so many other good things that will come naturally into your life and won’t feel like a chore to acquire. Meditation is a great habit which will help with lots of other goals. It will help to make you calmer and more focused. Even when you are not practising the effects of meditation linger as you become more present and connected.
Happiness can come from letting go, letting go of the thoughts and plans for the future to live happily in the present moment. Too much of our thoughts skip to the future, future worries, future dreams, future plans. We spend so much time in our head we allow the present moment to slip past. The special people get taken for granted, their present desires overlooked for their potential needs in the future. This is not the way to live life.
Happiness is the way
Time to be reminded again that goals are great but not if our present happiness is postponed until the day of their acquisition. Learn from the past, plan for the future but then let go and live life for today, because today is all you have and today is a happy day.
Thanks for this post — I have always had difficulty resolving the happiness/ambition issue. I think there is a saying out there that says something like, “happiness is the lack of high expectations”. It sounds a little depressing, but I do think there is truth in that, at least on the day-to-day scale of life. In that sense, letting go of all of the ambition and desire sounds good, just thinking of it makes me feel a little giddy. However, I do think big ideas and ambition is needed for happiness on longer time scales, at least for me.
I think you’ve nailed a few concepts to combat at least elements of this problem, like keeping your goals to a minimum (ahh, it’s so hard though, there is so much to do!), focusing on creating positive habits, and definitely trying to balance some present enjoyment with future success. I think honestly it will always be a struggle though — some of us are just built to always push.
Very true Forrest, it is an ongoing battle. My plan is to reduce the number of goals and make the ones I set big and exciting, hopefully allowing more time for letting go! Best of luck with finding your balance
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