How Being Content Can Help You to Achieve Your Goals
Contentment isn’t giving up; it’s getting real about what you want and acting from a supportive place.
“To be content doesn’t mean you don’t desire more, it means you’re thankful for what you have and patient for what’s to come” — Tony Gaskins
The reaction I get when I tell people that I feel content with my life is surprising. With sadness in their eyes, they react as if I’ve admitted that I’ve given up ever trying to do anything extraordinary.
Clearly to them, anyone who’s content has settled and has no intention of challenging themselves or going after what they want.
Contentment doesn’t mean parking yourself on the couch or being okay with having a boring life without any kind of fulfillment.
That’s not contentment; that’s surrendering your dreams, your goals, and your joy.
Contentment used to be something that you aimed for, and that when you had it felt as if you’d achieved something great. It made you feel good about your life and what you had accomplished so far.
If you look up the definition of contentment; it means a state of happiness and satisfaction.
A state isn’t forever, it’s the present, and where you’re emotionally at now.
Somewhere along the way attitudes changed, and being content morphed into meaning a state of stagnation. You made your peace with failed ambition and no longer needed to strive for anything.
But we’re never finished.
One of the characteristics of human beings is that there’s always some part of us that’s never completely satisfied and we feel something that pushes us to take action.
We’re encouraged to never be content, to always want more out of life, and that we can never truly feel fulfilled until we have used up all of our resources.
When we reach one goal; we set another one that’s further away, and we keep going.
When we can go no further; we make more promises to ourselves, and develop new challenges.
You kept dreaming bigger dreams.
You could have all the money, fame, and success in the world but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things you still want to do in your life.
Contentment doesn’t mean that you stop striving; it means that you’re satisfied where your life is in the present moment.
Contentment creates a strong foundation from which you feel safe enough to make your next move, even if that move is risky or has higher stakes than you’re comfortable with.
You’re not stuck or complacent when you’re content; you’re happy and ready to go on to the next chapter of your life.
Contentment isn’t the beginning and it’s not the end; it’s a stopping place where you can look in both directions and figure out your next move.
Think of contentment as the base camp of the great mountain representing your life.
You didn’t just arrive at base camp, you had to put in some hours and focus to get there. It was dangerous at parts and the possibility of danger is still present, but you’re still able to take a breath without fear of falling off the cliff.
Once, at base camp, you have the choice to stay and enjoy the view, or you can move forward. Maybe you’ll decide to go back the way you came.
“I’m sounding like Oprah, but if you’re not practicing contentment where you are now, you’re not getting contentment when you get what you want” — Tony Hale.
I’ve found that I’m much more focused on what I want to accomplish and how to do it when I feel supported.
How do you recognize contentment when you have it because it’s not flashy or obvious and how do you get it?
Contentment isn’t something you can borrow from someone else or buy — it’s all about how your perspective and having a mindset that allows you to be happy with your life right now.
Think about the good in your life.
You don’t have to have a ton of money, a book deal, or awards to be happy. You can find small things of which to be grateful for like your first cup of coffee in the morning, the people in your life, or achieving a small goal.
When you’re satisfied with what you have right now: you don’t feel pressured to act. You can look at all your options and make good decisions.
Desperation can cause the opposite of what you want to happen or can lead to making terrible decisions.
Think how rapidly unfunny a comedian gets when they’re desperate for a laugh but how the comic who’s confident and having fun is much more likely to get the audience laughing their heads off.
“Happiness will never come to those who fail to appreciate what they already have” — Bilal Zahoor.
Have more self-awareness:
Self-awareness doesn’t mean being conscious of every move you make. It’s paying attention to what’s going on physically, mentally, and emotionally and being honest with yourself.
When you’re self-aware; you trust yourself that you know what you’re doing and what needs to be done in your life.
Accept yourself for who you are:
You’re stuck with you so you might as well make the best of it.
Acceptance doesn’t mean that your growth is stalled — it means that you’re not going to emotionally beat yourself up every time things don’t go as planned.
When you fail, you can see what the lesson is, what you need to learn from it, and how you can do better in the future.
Contentment isn’t just about where you are in terms of the things you’ve achieved; it’s also about appreciating the person you’ve become.
Be compassionate with yourself:
When we have more awareness of ourselves; we’re also able to see how we suck and the mistakes that we’ve made along the way.
Contentment comes when you access empathy in your heart and forgive yourself.
It’s not that you won’t make mistakes in the future but at least, you know that you’ll be able to survive them and move on. You can’t stay mad at yourself all the time or even your successes will feel empty and unimportant.
Pay it forward.
One way to get perspective is to give to others. It doesn’t have to be money; you can donate your time and energy. Try tutoring a young person or volunteer at the food bank. Giving to others helps to get us out of ourselves and see how much we already have.
Sharing what you have is a good way to take inventory of your life.
It’s easy enough to say you’re grateful but are you putting it into practice? Are you grateful for everything in your life or just the things you can brag about on social media?
Gratitude leads to feelings of optimism and openness for the possibilities that the future may provide.
You’re content but you’re not stuck. Keep having dreams and thinking about the things you still wish to accomplish.
Goal-setting keeps you energized and moving forward.
When you’re content, you like yourself and your life much better.
Living in a contented space will help you to reach for what once were impossible goals because now you have a strong emotional foundation supporting and encouraging you.