Before our first AFS lunch, I thought I understood something important about myself, about my inner-workings. I'd spent a great deal of time analyzing and searching for my purpose...my passion. Although I hadn't yet figured out what my passion was yet, I had come up with a few attributes about myself that I thought captured important aspects that would be incorporated in that passion whatever it ended up being. Those attributes were the things I shared during our introductions at the AFS lunch. "Hi I'm Tracy, I haven't found my passion yet, but I do know that I'm a Problem Solver, I'm a Fast Learner, and I'm Creative. I'm here today because I am hoping that by surrounding myself with like-minded people I'll learn the skills that I need to achieve my goals and find true happiness and fulfillment." Okay, I'm a bit more long-winded than that, but that was the essence of my intro.
After listening to the introductions from the others at the lunch, I was pretty shocked to learn that EVERYONE (except for Roger) felt their passions also incorporated being a good problem solver, being a good learner, and being a creative mind. Here I thought I was identifying unique attributes about myself. But all seven of us had the same attributes. It was a common theme, a profile if you will, of those searching for success and personal fulfillment in a most serious manner. We had come to different conclusions about how to leverage those traits, but we were all still talking about the same base traits. I realized that I had stumbled upon something important.
Later that day, I heard the beat of "the passion drummer" for the first time. It was a paradigm shift in which I finally grasped that my old "goal drummer" had led me astray. In my opinion, the goal drummer has lead all of us goal-oriented souls astray. We feel something is lacking in our life. We want meaning. We want purpose. We want fulfillment. We have learned that to fix things in our life, we must identify the problem, analyze it (troubleshooting), come up with a strategy to fix it (a goal), and go about reaching the goal (learn the new skills needed to accomplish the new goal). We feel great (usually) when we accomplish the goal, but it's short-lived. Not long after the glow of accomplishment is gone, we're back to feeling something is missing again. We reassess our situation, identify the problem, analyze it, set a goal to fix it, and set off toward the new goal line. We do this over and over and over. I, for one, was getting pretty frustrated. I invested so much time and effort in this process that some days that best way for me to feel good was to make sure I checked a couple things off my to-do list. I actually felt a small slice of "happy" just by checking something off my list. It was my little treat to myself. I thought I was being clever. Seriously!
Now I see that the repetition of that goal-oriented cycle: (I feel something is missing, Analyze the something, Set a goal to fix the something, Achieve the goal to master the something, Feel a short-lived happy, Rinse and Repeat).
Now I see that repetition cultivates specific skills. Problem solving skills. Thinking outside the box. Being creative. Finding patterns in the seemingly unrelated. Being a fast learner. I can accomplish anything I set my mind to. Being driven. Being a go-getter. I realized then that we shared these base traits because we are completing the same goal-oriented cycle over and over again so of course we had developed the same skills. The sad thing is that long lasting happiness isn't found in the goal oriented cycle (or dancing to the goal drummer as I like to say). It isn't designed to, nor can it. Why? Because happiness isn't a task. It isn't a checklist item. It isn't something you set out to find or achieve. It's a state of being. It is a mindset. Oh, yes, we've all heard this a billion times before. Slow down and enjoy the process. Don't forget to smell the roses. It's the journey not the destination. But, before this week, I thought that was just another check list item. So I tried to incorporate that into my cycle, my goal oriented cycle. Learn to enjoy learning. Learn to enjoy accomplishing my goals. Make a conscious effort to acknowledge my own accomplishments. What a silly girl I was! The goal drummer had me running in circles, had me thinking that my life was going to be fulfilling by way of efficient processes and well constructed goals and finding enjoyment in running in circles!
Yes, today I still have goals. And, yes, I'm really good at planning, analyzing, and achieving them. But that is just a maintenance task in my life. It's not going to (ever) bring me happiness. I'm happy today because I am listening to the beat of the passion drummer. I choose to follow and focus on that which brings enjoyment. I choose to see myself in this moment as whole and I choose to have fun. I am not left wanting for things not yet done. Those tasks aren't going anywhere. They'll be there tomorrow and the next day and the next until I get to them. Whether I do them at all really becomes irrelevant in my level of happiness in this moment. The passion drummer beats on, oblivious to what is done or undone. There is no expectation to fulfill anything, and in that is where I found fulfillment and happiness, in that place where I dance with the passion drummer. In the 48-hours since I found the passion drummer, I have been happy. Not just some of that time. But deep and sustained happiness for this entire period. This is going to change my life in ways I can't yet fathom. Thanks for providing a place for me to share my journey!