Ever wake up one morning and think- now what? You got the degree, the house, the marriage, the kids, the dog, the career—is this all there is? With this dream has come– the school debt, the mortgage, the home maintenance, the needs of a growing family, the increasing stress of your job— you thought this would feel different ! You thought you would feel satisfied, fulfilled, complete and successful! You thought you would feel—“this is it, this is really living”! Instead, you feel burdened and pressured to sustain it all. You fear losing your job in this economy. You worry about your health because you don’t have time to exercise. The demands keep rising at work and at home. Work feels boring and unfulfilling. Life feels kind of empty. Has this happened to you?
I worked with a woman years ago who described herself as “drowning in still water”. There was nothing “overtly awful” about her life, however her spirit was withering and she was desperately yearning to feel alive. She had achieved all her “goals” and it all felt empty. She had lost touch with her soul and her life purpose.
Our culture places so much emphasis on bars of achievement, we assume these accomplishments will make us “feel” a certain way. When we don’t, it can seem like we got “ripped off by the dream that had us entranced”.
So where is the disconnect? Shouldn’t our achievements make us happy? One of the problems is that our dreams are so often external achievements. When focused on the goal, we lose sight of our internal experience. If you focus on getting the best ROI on your “degree”— you may go for an MBA, but is that really who you are? Do you love business? Will you thrive in the business world day in and day out for years to come? Or do you really get juiced making music, or working with your hands, or being an advocate for others? When you focus on the end, you may ignore your experience of the “process”. It is like getting married and focusing on the “wedding day” instead of the experience of being with this partner moment to moment, or like “wanting a baby”, but not being in touch with “how will this change your life”!
To live a truly fulfilling life requires that you know yourself really well. What truly inspires you ? What would jumpstart you out of bed each morning? What interests have you sustained over many years that don’t fade away? What would you do with your life if you didn’t feel pressure from family, friends and the culture around you ? How can you live from the “inside out” rather than “outside in”? If your life doesn’t seem to have much meaning right now, have you been disconnected from your feelings? Have you been numbing yourself with food, drugs, alcohol, TV, work, or shopping?
The first step is getting reconnected “ to self”. This means paying attention to what you love, what provides meaning, what gives you purpose; noticing when you feel creative and when you feel connected to others. What are the parts of you that have been stifled? Upon reflection, you may discover your external life needs a major “makeover”. Or you may discover that the way you relate to yourself has gotten you off track. You can become “the dreamer and the dream”.