Not so long ago, my life seemed to be a thrilling adventure. I had a clear vision for what I wanted to create and every day I woke with fire in my belly, ready to make my mark on the world. I grabbed opportunities by the horns and when they weren’t coming thick or fast enough, I got out there and made them happen. I can honestly say that there was never a moment when I felt bored. “So much to do, so little time” was my motto.
But there were many times when I felt disappointed, frustrated, irritated and even full of rage. After all, I was putting my heart and soul into life, working my butt off at business (and play) and it didn’t always feel like the powers-that-be were maintaining their side of the bargain. Where were all the goodies that I so richly deserved?
At that time, my life was defined by my work. I’d spend most of my weekdays (and weekends) attempting to implement my strategy and driving my business forwards. How could I promote what I do? How could I find clients? How could I build a following on social media? I networked, I blogged, I tweeted, I created videos for YouTube, I gave away ‘sign up’ freebies, held webinars and interviews. In other words, I worked and I worked and I worked — doing all the things that I had been told would make my business successful.
And then I got tired. Really, really tired. Not the type when you wake up and hit snooze and steal another fifteen minutes of sleep before you begin your day. No this was the ‘can’t lift my head from the pillow to move an inch’ version. All those long hours and constant striving finally took their toll.
I was forced to take some time out. To give myself some space to reassess my priorities and what I realised was that my life wasn’t happening in the illusion of some future-orientated vision of success — rather it was happening right here and right now, and I was so busy forcing my way forwards that I was missing all the fun and joy of the present moment.
Learning to undo all of the beliefs around needing to have a strategy has been a long and uncomfortable journey. Haven’t we all been told, at some point in our lives, that our success is built on our ability to make our dreams happen? But is that really the key to happiness? Can you know for certain that achieving what you think you want will actually bring you what you want? It is worth re-reading that sentence again. Can you know that what you think you want will actually bring you what you want? The truth is that we can’t answer a question with any certainty when it requires a projection into the future. Every attempt to predict what will happen is always a best guess — and more significantly, it distracts you from the present moment.
When we leave the now to imagine a more perfect future, we may create feelings of excitement, anticipation and enthusiasm, but all of these are based on a premise of expectation. And expectation is the root cause of all disappointment. If you don’t require life to unfold according to your plans, how can you ever feel that anything is lacking or has been lost?
It may sound as though I am saying, “don’t want or desire anything to save you from being disappointed later“. I know many of us heard this in our childhood. But presence consciousness is something entirely different. When you stay in the moment and present to what is occurring in the here and now, you free yourself from the world of illusion. You can’t be fully present and projecting a future at the same time.
A life of presence has a very different quality. You do, of course, still experience a range of emotions but these have a far more authentic essence to them. You smile when you are happy and you cry when you are in pain but you don’t have the same complex stories to deal with about what situations may or may not mean. It is just you being with the current experience, until life moves on once more. Can you get a sense of how much simpler things are?
Simplicity is the name of the game in presence, and nowhere is it more true than with your life strategy. Now there is no need to dream up your vision or create a plan. As the moment arises, all you need to know is what is asked of you next. And then you do the thing that is right in front of you. No deliberation, no confusion, no elaborate plans or demands. Just the thing that is right in front of you.
These days, my life has a very different tone. Apart from scheduled appointments, I know very little about what I will do from one moment to the next. I used to blog every Thursday — today I only knew I was blogging when I opened my laptop. Yesterday became a day for making jam and cordials — I only knew that when I had picked the fresh fruit. I won’t know what I am doing next until I find myself just about to do it.
This approach brings indescribable pleasure to my life. When I stay present, I am aware of my energy flow — I know when to take action and when to rest. Every so often, the old strategic thinking will hook me in once more. I’ll try to figure out what will happen next or worse still, I devise a plan! Then I catch myself, have a little chuckle and just remind myself that life has got it covered — all I have to do is the thing that is right in front of me!
If you enjoyed this blog post, then you may like to know that I have nearly completed writing my new book, From Pursuit to Presence. In the meantime, you can sign up for updates and get a free three part video series on making the shift at pursuittopresence.com