The race to reach happiness through achievements is never-ending, but will never get you there if your motives aren’t aligned with your heart’s desire. Happiness is not dependent on appraisal of titles and credit or approval from others.
Make sure you know what you’re striving for. Find out what you want to feel, and align your time usage with that.
This is the story of how I came up to realising that achieving is not a value in itself.
Reached goals. Wrong motives.
Two years ago I would have repeated this often: ” I have my calendar really full, but maybe we can have a coffee in two weeks?”. I didn’t have time to spent with my friends, because of my obsession to reach my goals. The goals were really important to me! At work, I had finally been given an important project to manage, which of course I felt very proud being in charge of and wanted to prove I can do it. “If I do this well now, it will help me a lot in the future”. I also loved going to the gym and following my fixed diet, because sports has always been my life-line and having control over my body by monitoring everything gave safety and control. I was working hard, and I was doing well, like a good girl would.
I did finish my projects, and I did become fit. But was I any happier? No, I felt miserable. Finishing projects in time at work, I was just given more goals to reach, because achieving at work is just a way to get to be given more work. Also, I was fit, but honestly, who cared? I had nobody to show my body and no one on the streets were telling me I’m in an awesome shape.
Thinking about that time afterwards, I don’t think I had any idea about why I was working so hard for. What did I want to reach after I finished my projects at work, I mean, what kind of work did I want to do in the future?
And why was it so important for me to have a perfectly fit body if I wasn’t even in fitness, I was just doing it for “myself”?
I think I was looking after acknowledgement, appraisal, being complimented, getting noticed I guess. I wanted to feel important and appreciated.
What did I learn?
In the end, there will be NO ONE waiting to put the crown on your head, to say that you’re the best, to say “well done”.
Rejecting a lot of fun events with my friends had cost me a lot of good memories. Neglecting listening to my body and giving it some rest, had created stress and messed up the hormones in my body and I had gone from fit to fatigue. I had lost a lot of time that I could’ve been using to work towards goals that are actually important to my True Self.
My objectives were not aligned with what I really wanted in life. I learned that pushing myself to achieve didn’t make me happier and the time spent wasn’t worth it.
What does your heart truly desire?
I started spending more time reading and reflecting. One of the books I read at this point was Danielle La Porte’s ‘Desire Map’. In the search of more happiness and wellbeing, the first thing we often do is to take out a pen and paper and start writing a to-do-list. By adding more events to our calendar, we will surely be paid off with more results, we think. Well this book offers an alternative point-of-view by saying, that instead of thinking what more do I need to achieve or buy, the real question we should ask ourselves is:
What feelings do I want to feel?
I started writing down a list of what feelings do I want to feel. I was surprised about how obvious the difference was between what I was using my time on in comparison to the emotions on my list (below):
Not feeling busy
Feeling excited about what I do
How controversial was it to see that I wanted not to feel busy, while I spent all my time running from place to another? Or that I wanted to feel love, but was not willing to open myself or owning time to getting to know a new person? Last, I was living in one of the coldest countries, while I basically just wanted to see the sun!
Align your time-usage with objectives meaningful to you
Needless to say, noticing this made me look at my life in a new angle. I crossed away everything from my calendar, and started thinking what I would fill it with if I could do anything. I wanted to strip away things that are actually taking away my happiness more than adding to it, the so-called time-thieves. I started making decisions based on my new objectives.
Aligning my goals to my true objectives, the feelings I wanted to feel, threw me on the course of life that eventually took me to Barcelona.
Now, my calendar is reasonably filled with events that are aligned with my true desires. I still feel stressed and pressured at times by the needs to achieve what is needed. I’m still busy too. That in today’s life never goes away. But as I’m running from place to another on the streets of Barcelona, I remember to stop myself. I remember to look at the sun, and be happy about the warmth it still brings to my face in the end of October, like it did on the first days of arriving here, when I finally saw the sun after a long winter in Finland, and it was enough to make me happy.
Now I’m more present and no more running after external recognition. My biggest achievement is that I get to feel love, laughter, warmth of the sun, calmness and be excited about what I’m doing! 🙂
“You will never be able to escape your heart. So it’s better to stop and listen to what it has to say.”
Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist