Why We Ignore the Very Things That Help Us Succeed — And How to Stop

credits: Unsplash

When we really want something, we often strategize, think about how to get from A to B, and then we get to work to make it all happen. But rarely do we ‘check in’ to know if we are aligned to what will actually help us succeed. When we don’t, the real lived experience is instead increased stress and anxiety, not exactly joy, peace and fulfillment.

So, how are we ignoring the very things that are actually going to help us succeed?

  1. Perhaps the first and foremost — many of us have this idea that the harder we work the quicker we get to our coveted goal! In other words, we believe that the more hours we get in the day to do the things that we think are going to move us forward, the sooner we are making it happen. This is a most erroneous idea.
  2. Another one — many have this notion that the more we can stand out — be it with accreditations, degrees, certificates, or what have you and depending on the goal., the better recognized we’ll be. In different words, we place our attention and energy on what we are missing and along the way to getting where we want to go keep doing things to prove our worth and abilities, regardless of how happy we are.
  3. Last but not least — most of us keep looking at what others are doing and how they are doing it. So, we end up far removed from the desire we had in the first place and waste energy analyzing what others are doing and how they are doing it. It’s no wonder we say we feel pretty exhausted.

There are three ways we find ourselves stressed, anxious, and exhausted: 1) erroneous beliefs, 2) operating from a place of lack, and 3) losing sight of purpose. It’s so easy to find ourselves here. We get to this place when we ignore the heart, hold self-defeating beliefs and with that token work ourselves into the ground. But there are also simple ways to get on track with purpose and to where we want to be more easily.

Letting Go

The battle is won in the mind and in following the heart. From this view, the hands follow. But the crux of really making this wisdom work for you is in ‘letting go’.

Here is my story: Here I was at the beach. I was hitting some pretty awesome goals in career. Yet, I sat there miserable. My misery hit me as I lay on the beach watching my young daughter in a sport she loved. She was so excited to show me how far she had come.

What hit me was that I had missed months of watching her growth, and it gripped me that she was overjoyed by my presence and attention. I hadn’t given myself the opportunity to enjoy being in the sun— or even just be.

Just that space and place allowed me to take a look at the things I was chasing, and how I might be ignoring the things that would truly help me succeed in living my purpose, and where I truly was in life. Was I trying to prove to somebody or some institution in the future that I have all this amazing experience? Without all these achievements, would I perhaps not stand out?

I wasn’t living. And, so not surprisingly, I wasn’t living my purposes anymore — writing, giving talks on topics that mattered, activism around issues that mattered, being in a loving marriage and being a present mom. To push myself deeper in recognizing the place I was in and how I got there, I had to admit I was not living the core values I held.

The things that actually help us succeed

For me, given the context, the critical piece to change things was to let go. That context included the notion of success that is dominant in most cultures and driven by our economic system of consumerism that serves a few. Let go of the belief that you have to work around the clock, and start focusing your energy more on the things that are priority for you. Realize if you are operating from lack, or more accurately a belief that you aren’t enough and deserving of what you truly and deeply want to experience.

Success is knowing you are enough. You are enough without the next shiny thing. If it won’t truly add to your growth, you don’t need it. If it detracts joy from your life, drop it. If it detracts from peace, it isn’t aligned with your true success. You deserve joy, peace and fulfillment.

You are unique. You have desires that want to find their way into the world through you. As long as you keep comparing yourself to others, keep thinking about how to position yourself to some illusive thing in the future, or keep trying to please others, you take focus off the desires that want to manifest into the world, now, and connection to your core. Plan for the long term AND shift your focus to your present desires. Live them.

Sometimes we will need to work many hours in a day. But what will ultimately help you succeed in the long term isn’t the long hours or even that long term plan. It’s allowing things in your day that light you up. What keeps your energy high? Do a few of those things every day. Just be. By the way, you don’t need figure out your purpose. Just do these things that light you up consistently.

What are core values to you, regardless of what others in your life want? How are you living them? When we ‘check in’ to know if we are aligned to them, we give ourselves the opportunity to evaluate if we are living on purpose. We become better at recognizing what we need to do more of and let go of to live joy, peace and fulfillment.