It’s just as dangerous to be attached to achieving a goal as it is to be fearful that it won’t come true.
I’ll admit, this is a tricky one.
Avoiding the fear around failure makes total sense. Fear can cripple us and make it difficult, if not impossible, to achieve our goals. Intuitively we get that.
How, then, is being attached to a goal, even striving for it, equally as harmful as the crippling fear?
When we become too attached to an outcome we want, we become fixated on it. It puts our focus on the future and not in the present. Tension persists because we don’t currently have the thing we want. Attachments lead to feelings of anxiety because we want to control someone that is currently uncontrollable – our future.
A foundational tenant in Mindfulness-Based Stress Relief (MBSR) is non-striving. It suggests getting your goals will happen naturally and more successfully if you allow the process to unfold.
To achievers this comes across as passive or way too lackadaisical. The “Type A” personalities want to make things happen; non-striving can come across as the opposite of what it takes AND what we want to do.
All too often, I put this theory to the test walking out the door to drive somewhere. We’ll be in a rush getting the kids wrangled in the car. Inevitably, we’re running late. I realized that I don’t have the keys, or my wallet, or my phone. I don’t know where they are.
Naturally, stress kicks in. My sole focus in the world is wanting that missing item so we can get wherever we’re going without running too far behind. I do that mad dash though the house frantically looking. The harder I look, the less it feels like I know where to look. I finally find myself on the 4th or 5th round through the house not even really looking, just moving from room-to-room. I’m so attached to the outcome of having my keys that my mind is practically shutting down.
About that time, my mind gave in. I stop trying so hard and I allow myself to breathe. I calm down knowing that finding the keys is out of my control, because had they been sitting in plain sight, I would have seen them.
I’m sure you feel this too. We’ve all been there. The most interesting thing, though, is not too long after I come down from the stress, I recall that the keys are in the pocket of the pants I wore a couple days ago. Like magic, the keys are there.
Our goal should be to stay in the present. The here & now is where we can take action. The present is where we can make changes. The only thing truly real is this very moment.
You might be thinking, sounds great if I’m a zen master. However, chances are that you’re a go-getter who cares deeply about your goals.
Chris Suarez, my partner Xperience Growth Coaching, says this: Be patient with your results; be impatient with your activity.
Work super hard. Work smart. Work on purpose. Let the results take care of themselves. Through that approach, the wins and losses become lessons that you can use in the present to make adjustments in your actions.
The present is a powerful place to be. We can come back to the present when we detach from our attachments.
Life feels more fluid, you make better & more creative decisions, you’re more joyful AND you actually hit the goals when you finally let go of the attachment.