Why am I not succeeding?
For many years, this question was the launching point of my work as a life-coach, and I had a great answer to it.
You don’t want it bad enough.
It was a fun moment. I would launch into an inspirational speech and say things like…
If you wanted it bad enough you’d already have it.
You don’t need more information, you just need to want it more.
If it were easy, everyone would do it.
Blah blah blah…
Hard work! That’s all that’s missing, right? Well in some cases that’s true, but what I found is if I didn’t acknowledge this next possibility I was missing an important piece of the conversation…
Maybe not wanting it bad enough is a sign you should quit.
What? Give up on my dreams? But what about the little engine that could? If you’re the kind of person who applies motivation to every situation you may be pushing a square peg in a round hole, and better served by quitting, packing it up and walking away.
The Wisdom of Giving Up
Quitting gets a bad rap in American society, but what if quitting could also mean that you’re freeing up time to do something else? The truth is we can’t do everything, so to make room for the important things in our life sometimes we have to quit. Just like the person who says “yes” to every opportunity, we may be better served by considering the power of saying no.
Take a moment and think back to a time when you quit something you really didn’t want to do. Maybe it was ending a relationship, quitting a job or just walking out a boring lecture. How good did that feel? You were a quitter, and yet the less courageous thing would have been to stay.
The Power of Our Desires
At it’s core, this conversation isn’t about making decisions or even quitting, it’s about tuning into your desires. We disconnect ourselves from what we really want, because we are too caught up in doing what we think we want. That statement is worth repeating.
We disconnect ourselves from what we really want, because we are too caught up in doing what we think we want.
It makes sense that if you’re doing something you think you want and you really want to keep doing it, you will ignore your desires, because they might tell you to quit. That’s a scary prospect.
The Hippies Were Right
If you’re like me five years ago (or my parents), you may be thinking that what I’m suggesting is too free spirited.
Do what you want… follow your desires… quit stuff you don’t like… come on Dave… Life isn’t as simple as “do what you want”, we have responsibilities, needs like “making money”, and sometimes you don’t want to do that stuff but you do it anyway, because it needs to get done.
This is absolutely true, and the person who follows the advice of “do what you want” without acknowledging the other side (self-discipline, structure and determination) will ultimately be frustrated because they will be at the whim of their feelings, won’t be able to commit to anything and will have trouble sticking to something, even if it’s what they ultimately want to do.
Conversely, if someone only knows self-discipline, structure and determination they will find themselves in a constant grind. They may work for years toward a goal, only to realize it wasn’t what they truly wanted.
Loud and Clear
We are all given an internal compass to navigate our life. To some it feels like desires, to some it feels like a calling, to others it’s a divine presence that speaks to us. I can’t tell you the exact difference between superficial desires like wanting an extra piece of cake and deeper callings like changing the direction of your life, but I can say that it’s something you must figure out for yourself.
Tuning into your internal guidance is often clunky, especially if you haven’t done it in a while. Maybe you need to go on a “do what you want” binge and follow some desires even if they seem shallow. This is important.
Just as someone who is a total free spirit would benefit from a boot camp, people who are caught up in pushing and making everything happen may benefit from letting go and listening for what wants to happen.
Sometimes not wanting something bad enough is life’s way of giving you the hint that there may be something else that’s better for you.
Sometimes you don’t want it bad enough, and that’s perfect.
This is part 4 of a 4-part collection entitled The Beauty of Under Achievement