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”.