Where Are You Now?

You have dreams and goals. You want to open a little gift shop near the beach. Or you want to travel around the world. Or write a novel, or retire early, or lose weight. So how do you get from here to there? It may seem obvious, but you need to start with being clear about where you are now.

Signpost pointing in multiple directions

After all, how do you know how to get to Timbuktu, or even to the new restaurant downtown, if you haven’t first oriented yourself?

It’s the same for other goals, too. But if it’s that simple, why can it be so difficult? Why do we put it off, or make half-hearted attempts at change only to fall back into a stuck place? Why don’t we want to take stock of where we are to help ourselves move forward effectively?

There are many reasons we come up with, and some of them are valid. But the anxiety underneath is often the fear of facing real grief over our lost opportunities and personal failures.

It’s as if we have an inner ogre that tallies up every single mistake we’ve ever made, and taunts us as we move toward our authentic lives.

Stone gargoyle sculpture

Scary stone gargoyle looking way too pleased with himself

If you get on the scale to gauge how much weight you want to lose, the inner ogre taunts you about being heavier than you were the last time you dieted. So you avoid it.

When you start to write a novel, your inner critic bombards you with “what’s wrong” with your writing. (And, “who cares what you have to say, anyway?”) So you end up revising the first chapter until it looks nothing like what you originally intended, and you lose the mojo you had for writing it in the first place. Another “failed” novel goes in the file drawer.

Anyone who’s struggled to fulfill a creative dream—and all dreams are in some way creative—or set personal goals that are never quite met, knows what it’s like to hear those voices.

But here’s the thing: your fear and grief are not going away, even if you avoid them. And staying stuck will only add to the psychic weight of regret.

The mistakes you’ve made, the failures you’ve experienced, and the losses that grip your heart whenever you think of them, have a real impact on your life and others, to be sure. But they’re not who you are.

You are a creative spirit who can interact with your environment, make grounded choices, and live your life in alignment with your deepest values.

You can navigate your life from the core of who you are—where your wisdom resides. And it’s always there. You just have to remember to listen to it, despite the voice of the ogre.

Hands holding a heart

Wherever you are in your journey, remember to be compassionate with yourself. Treat yourself like you would treat a dear friend.

When you take stock of where you are now compared to an (as yet) unfulfilled dream or goal, what do you realize about the path you need to take to reach it?

Posted in Anxiety, Compassion, Inner Critic.