I was recently asked where I saw myself in five years. My answer was not a typical answer, nor one you might expect from a career oriented person. Nevertheless, it's an answer I fully stand behind, because it's far more important than any title or worldly aspiration.
Rather than something like, "leading a team of designers" or "starting my own company," (which still are things I see myself doing someday) I stated that my focus is simply about cleaning up the mess I've stored inside myself so that I can more fully experience life.
Essentially, in five years, I see myself as someone who more fully experiences and appreciates life, and all the ups and downs that come with it. It's not to say that I will neglect my outer responsibilities or don't intend to advance my career. Quite the opposite. It's the realization that if I don't clean up the mess and work on myself, there will be very few meaningful advances in my career, or any aspect of my life.
So, how will I do that, you ask? I will use the approach I've been learning and writing about in this blog for the past year. That is, I will use everyday occurrences to release the negative thinking and emotional patterns that run my life. This is what I mean by the mess I've accumulated that prevents me from experiencing - let alone enjoying - the eternal present moment.
Today is my 29th birthday, and I figured I'd make it official by writing and sharing my top three goals with you. Notice, none of them have to do with the outer world. They are all inward practices.
1. Let go when there is no benefit to holding on
I will begin with events that have all cost and zero benefit to getting worked up over.
If I inspect my mood throughout the day, the truth is, it often fluctuates based on tiny occurrences. If someone says the wrong thing at the wrong time, I'm triggered. Someone pays me a compliment, I'm back to being okay (until of course I remember the thing that triggered me). I'm sure you too can relate to the volatile nature of your heart and mind.
All throughout our days we're thrown around by the littlest of things. When there is all cost and zero benefit to getting worked up over something, that's when you know it's something to let go. Any and every time something comes up that little Gabe doesn't like (that's the part of me that is used to getting upset), I will use it to remember the teachings of this blog, and let go.
This is what I mean by ridding myself of my personal garbage so that I can enter the present moment with more love and grace. This is one practice I'll be focusing on this year.
2. Put an end to hope and expectations
I've realized that I'm often disappointed because my hopes and expectations don't turn out as planned (go figure). I've also learned that oftentimes I'll subconsciously create expectations for someone or something, almost always to have them violated when the time comes.
For example, just yesterday I had planned to use an electronic prepaid Visa card that I've had for a while. When the time came to use it, the physical store wasn't able to enter the code, so I couldn't pay with it. While this certainly didn't ruin my day, I did spend more time being frustrated about it than I would've liked. Only after did I realize that I had created an expectation all morning to use the card. As soon as that expectation wasn't upheld, I became frustrated.
I intend to be more mindful in noticing when these expectations get created in the first place. Oftentimes it's so subtle, that it's only until after, when plans go awry, that I realize I had expectations in the first place.
In your life, you probably create expectations for the people, places, and things around you, including something as out of control as the weather. Start to notice when your mind does this, and try to let go of them before it's too late.
This brings me to my last goal.
3. When letting go of a little thing is hard, surrender to your resistance of that
Even when I'm upset and can't let go, I can at least learn to let go of the resistance to being upset. In other words, don't beat myself up over feeling upset. Remember that these are stored patterns coming up, being triggered by everyday events. It's not my fault. It's only my responsibility to remember this, and give the energy room to pass. Eventually, they will be gone, and I will be freer each time.
It's typical for something or someone in the world to trigger a response, and then for us to blame ourselves for feeling that way. I'm telling you now, it's not your fault, in that moment, that you're feeling that way. It's due to years and years of stored energy patterns.
This goal is about remembering that, so that you, and I, can learn to relax and release these patterns.
These are three practices that I intend to carry out this year. They are, in a sense, my goals for my 29th year, and I trust that they will take me where I need to go.
The beautiful thing about these goals is that I don't need to stop anything else I'm doing. I can still show up to work, love my partner, visit my family, and be silly. The whole purpose of the goals is so I can do those things more fully, with more vigor.
In your life, what if you tried making one of your goals an inward one rather than an outward one? Perhaps changing something within yourself would bring the love, joy, and abundance you seek through outward goals.
Live with substance!