Did you hear the one about the man who left on a journey? Someone told him about an amazing, magical place where he would find the answers to all his questions and live the rest of his life in peace and contentment. The only problem was that it was quite a distance and would take several years to find. Not only that, it was not an easy journey. Most of it was uphill, and had to be traveled on foot since the path–when you could find it–was narrow and rocky.
Not one to be deterred, he set out on a quest to find this place. He was determined and single-minded. There was only one goal in mind–to reach his destination. It took many years but after climbing countless mountains, keeping his eyes down to watch for rocks and pitfalls, he finally arrived.
He found a large rock ledge at the top of the mountain overlooking the valley below. At last he had a chance to breathe, relax, and take in the view of the valley and all his surroundings. And he waited.
He waited for that feeling of peace and contentment he had been promised. But as he sat on the rock overlooking the valley below he slowly realized–he didn’t like the view.
It wasn’t what he had expected. There was nothing there that comforted him or rewarded him for all of his trouble to reach this mountaintop. He had spent years battling his way to the top, and once there all he felt was tired.
He had been on the wrong journey all along.
Perhaps this story sounds familiar to you. It’s really not so unusual in today’s society. Many of us grow up with an idea of how we want our lives to look. What we want to accomplish so we can consider ourselves successful. The only problem is once we get where we thought we wanted to go, we still feel as if there is something missing.
This happened to one of my clients. He spent thirty years in a successful career, acquiring everything society deemed necessary to prove his achievements. Yet he didn’t really enjoy what he was doing. In moving up the ladder, he moved away from what really motivated him to enter his chosen field in the first place.
His love of the arts and a desire to awaken creativity in others were his passions. However, he left the front lines where he felt he really made a difference, and moved into management because those around him convinced him it was the best thing for his career. He lost sight of what was important to him, and began to focus on what society dictated should be important.
Luckily for him, it was not the end of his journey. He actually stopped to evaluate where he was going and what he wanted to find when he got there. If he kept on the same path, he would have finished like the man on the rock. Nice view, but not what he wanted to see.
Realizing this, he decided to change course and found ways to include what he loved doing back into his job.
He still works just as hard as before. The journey is still difficult and much of it is still uphill. But now he takes time to enjoy the view along the way, and he checks in to make certain all of his decisions are in alignment with his personal values.
Of course, the moral of the story is to make sure where you are headed is where you really want to go. The best way to accomplish that is to align your actions and your goals with your core ideals–with what makes your heart sing.
It may not be easy, but if you can synchronize your actions with your passions, it is a pretty good bet you will like the view when you finally reach your destination.