My whole life I've been a dreamer. A goal setter. Vision boarding extraordinaire. Someone who was always looking towards the future. I was the girl already picking next year's planner when Halloween came around. At the time, I wore my dreaming abilities like a badge of honor. I have to be honest, being a future thinker really did serve me for most of my life. This desire to dream and set goals was responsible for me becoming a straight A student, earning an engineering degree, paying off debts, moving to a new country, losing 60 pounds...you get the point. What I didn't realize was this tendency robbed me of enjoying my life in the moment and had me working towards achievements that I'm not even sure I wanted. Now don't get me wrong, there's a time for thinking about the past, a time for enjoying the present, and a time for dreaming of the future. My issue was that I was spending almost all my time envisioning my future and not spending nearly enough time enjoying my life in the present moment.
When I think back on my first 30 years of life, I can hardly remember the feelings I had. I can articulate the events that happened, but it's hard for me to really tell you what those moments felt like. It's because I was so focused on the future, I was disconnected from myself and what was really going on below the surface. If I would have stopped for a couple minutes to look, I would have seen that this tendency to dream and only focus on the future was me trying to escape my life. It was me placing conditions on my happiness. I cannot tell you how many times I told myself, "I'll be happy when...". I'll be happy when I lose weight, I'll be happy when I'm financially free, I'll be happy when I own a house, I'll be happy when...(you fill in the blank).
If you looked through the pages of my journals, you will see two goals showing up time and time again. I had a goal to lose weight and a goal to become financially free. The goal of losing weight was me trying to escape the shame and hate I had for my body. I convinced myself that if I could just lose the weight then I would magically feel confident and happy and be able to do the things I had been restricting myself from doing, like going to pool parties. I can remember one summer I skipped out on every single pool party because of how embarrassed I was of my body. My goal to be financially free was me trying to fix my marriage. I told myself that achieving this goal would make us both happy and restore us back to who we were at the start of our relationship.
The truth is, each of these was an example of me trying to go around the real problem. The goals were actually just distractions. The real problem was that I had to address my binge eating. I was using food as a way to numb and avoid my feelings. It took me removing my focus from weight loss onto what feelings I was trying to avoid to solve the problem. Only then, with the help of a therapist and the courage to look at my life was I able to lose the weight. The crazy thing is, the weight loss was actually just a bonus. The real achievement was me getting in touch with myself and not being a prisoner to my thoughts. I still get urges to binge eat and I won't lie and say I'm absolutely in love with what I see in the mirror, but I'm a whole lot closer to confidence and freedom than I ever was on a crash diet.
The goal of me trying to become financially free was me trying to fix my relationship. The real problem was that there were communication issues in my marriage that needed to be addressed by the two of us and some coaching from a therapist, not from a larger bank account. Staying so focused on money kept me from really taking care of what was going on at home. I was so convinced that passive income was the answer that I didn't even want to go on a honeymoon until our goals were reached. Looking back, a honeymoon and some time together would have been a better way to get closer to one another than trying to earn more money.
I still have goals and dreams and visions of my future, but my feelings of happiness are not contingent on me achieving those goals. I am choosing to find the joy in my life as it is today, regardless of the size on my jeans or my relationship status. I am choosing to slow down and really understand what's hiding beneath my desires and hopes for the future. This slowing down helps me to make sure I'm aligned and on the right path for a future that is right for me, not one society has chosen.
As we're wrapping up another year, the pressures to make resolutions and set big audacious goals are in full force. It's so tempting to tell ourselves that these future goals will soothe our pain and solve our problems because it gives us a free pass from having to deal with the issue in the present moment. I want to encourage you to look underneath the dreams you have on your lists. They're like a treasure map to what's really going on inside. What story are you telling yourself about how you will feel and what your life will be like when you achieve that goal? How can you start to embody the feelings you seek now, before the achievement?
Until next time, Ciao! xx
P/s: Here's a song that brings me joy when I'm driving in my car with the windows down and the sun is shining!