Much of our life we find ourselves searching for a moment when it is all calm and perfect; when we have everything in order in our mind, body and soul. Whether you consider yourself a perfectionist or not you probably find yourself searching or waiting for that day, or moment in time when you have it all together—you have it all figured out. But you know what? You will never really have it all figured out. Even if you reach so-called enlightenment, you will always be faced with some new experience or event or feeling or relationship that throws you off. Then once again you feel like you are not together, don’t have it figured out, or are thrown for a loop. I love idioms if you haven’t noticed (in fact I studied how people process idioms in my graduate and professorial psychology career) and there are so many idioms that capture the concept of not knowing what you are doing, feeling out of whack or like you’ve lost your way. You strive to live life as if it is something that can be tackled and made meaningful. You attempt to be in control and want certain results in your life.
Pema Chödrön talks about the concept of “abandon any hope of fruition.” She describes that as long as you long for something in the future, you are ignoring what you already have. When you want to have everything figured out you lose sight of the fact that what you have right now is the only true reality. And you don’t give yourself credit for all you are in the present moment. Whether you are happy, bored, sad, angry, insecure or whatever, that is your reality and it is neither good nor bad, it just is. She asks you to endeavor to enter into an unconditional relationship with yourself so that you have compassion for yourself whatever the circumstances.
Now that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t want to figure out what you want in your life—for now. It means that you must allow for the reality that life is a journey and it constantly shifts and changes, even if you are reaching towards some destination. Self-inquiry and searching for what gives you juice in life is essential for you to live consciously and purposely—to have a fulfilling life. And that fulfilling life doesn’t wait to begin when you have all your ducks in a row. Even if you have a moment of experience that all your ducks are in a row, it will be fleeting because it will change. Your real life experience is happening in this moment whether you feel like you are handling it and have it all together or not. And this is just as true while you are simultaneously working towards a goal.
I do a lot of thinking and vision work with myself and with my clients because having an image of what you want is helpful for setting direction and feeling compelled towards something that gives your life meaning. Mapping out what you think you want is all well and good but the reality is that until you experience something, you won’t know how it affects you. Thinking that something or other will finally get you to feel like you have it all figured out—which it will never be anyway—can set yourself up for an expectation that if you just do something or other, your life will magically be all figured out. If only I had that great job—if only I lost that weight—if only I was married—If only I had a child. You name it, if you think any particular outcome means that you will finally be set for life and have it all figured out, that is illusory.
This morning I was talking to a wonderful colleague who is also a coach who reminded me that trying out different things is very important and useful to the life process when you feel adrift. You must give up the expectation that you will find the perfect solution to having it all together and instead go out and try different things that are interesting or important or compelling to you for some reason. Sure you can get the great job, lose the weight, get married, have a child and those are awesome things to do—and still it isn’t going to make your life finally settled and in the exact place you want it. Try to experience each event and outcome as they unfold and if you find you want more of that particular experience, seek it out again. Saying do more of what you like and less of what you don’t is a simple method that doesn’t require the impossible requirement that you must figure it all out. Be a sampler of life experience and enjoy—for lack of a better word that captures both the positive and negative—the emotions and impact on you. Let go of striving to have it all figured out and you will live with less conflict about your circumstances, whatever they may be, as you follow your life journey.