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Are Fantasies Screwing Up Your Goals for Success?
Have you ever caught yourself fantasizing about the future and felt guilty about it?
Why don’t goals provide lasting fulfillment?
And how is it possible that — deep down — you and your enemies just want the same things in life?
Today we’re going to listen to a group coaching call where I recently did some teaching around the purpose of our fantasies. Whether you’re into exotic fast cars, harems full of adoring women, or being the best at what you do — we’re going to find out what’s really driving us so that (1) we stay off the hamster wheel of self deprivation and (2) we enjoy more of the life we already have right now.
In this interview:
- What drives our fantasies
- Why we want the same things that our enemies want
- How to get out of a rat racer/self-deprivation mindset
- “Why can’t I be happy with what I have? What’s wrong with me?”
- What has us self-sabotage or get in the way of our goals
- don Miguel Ruiz and sin
- How meditation helps us understand what’s driving us
And just to set a little context here:
This recording is from one of the coaching groups I lead. On this particular day we were talking about goals. Specifically how goals can be rooted in fantasies. One big fantasy is that when we accomplish our goals then all of our troubles will be over. It doesn’t sound very rational when we say it out loud, but our minds can get stuck in this trap. Unfortunately this mindset has us deprive ourselves of what our lives can offer today because we’re focused on reaching that magical special day in the future when we’ll finally be able relax or do what we really want to do with our lives.
For many of us, the big hope of this fantasy is that once we have enough success or safety or whatever then we’ll finally be free of the uncertainty, pain, and effort of life. Phil Stutz and Barry Michels call this exoneration, and unfortunately no matter how successful or special or loved we are, there is no escaping uncertainty, pain, and effort in our lifetime.
Now, I’m not saying goals are bad. I just want to help us create goals that aren’t rooted in some magical fairy tale. Instead of blindly chasing our goals, instead of losing the present moment in some fantasy of the future, what if we could use our fantasies to understand what we’re truly wanting right now? And what if — maybe — what we’re ultimately wanting is much, much closer than we could imagine? In other words, what if our fulfillment and happiness wasn’t on the top of some mountain or across some crazy finish line way out in the future?
Many of us are aware of the things or outcomes we want. But rarely are we in touch with the underlying reason — the purpose — for why we want those outcomes. If we can slow down and get curious with our fantasies then we can use them as a doorway to have the experiences we ultimately want.
Hopefully this discussion will make these ideas more clear. Let’s dive in.
After the group call…
So I’ll end the group recording there. Let’s talk about how to make this more practical. If you want to dive in and find out what’s truly motivating you, what you’re truly wanting in your life then I have a simple exercise. It just requires a piece of paper or something you can write on.
First fold that piece of paper in half and now on the left side write down your current goals or the outcomes you really want to have happen in your life. Let your imagination run wild. Scare yourself a bit. Write down how much money you’d like to have. Write down where you’d live. Write down what kind of work you’d be doing, the position you would hold. Write down the friends you would have, the intimate relationship or relationships you would want. Write down all of the stuff you would love to see yourself doing and having in the future. Talk about the body you’d have, the stuff you’d be doing for fun, anything and everything you want to have happen before you die. There are no wrong answers here — just make sure it’s something that you can measure as an outcome. Meaning it’s something you could observe or measure. For example a certain amount of money, a location to live, a professional title, what you want somebody to say to you, what you want somebody to do for you, etc.
Now, on the right hand side of the paper write down how you imagine each one of these outcomes will make you feel. We want to reveal the experiences that you’re hoping you’ll have based on these outcomes. Get a specific experience for each outcome.
Remember, these fantasies are all a theory, so like the guys in the group we just listened to, see if you can get in touch with what the money or the fancy house or the happy healthy family would have you feel. The more specific you can be the better.
Deep inside our minds we’ve created a theory that says, “If I have XYZ then I would feel ABC.” Fill in the blanks.
If you want you can create a little palette for yourself with experiences like feeling safe, comfortable, free, alive, lit up, turned on, excited, at peace, relaxed, connected, loved, belonging, accepted, special, and admired. Use whatever terms fit for you.
What you realize may be uncomfortable, but see if you can do this exercise without judging yourself or what you truly want because I believe we’re more powerful when we’re willing to look at what’s driving our desires. From this place we can then make grounded decisions about how to respond. We can decide if this is how we want to live our lives. We can challenge the notion that we really need XYZ in order to be happy. We can find healthier ways to scratch this itch, and this make it less likely that we’ll do something reckless or hurtful or self-sabotaging.
Now, once we’ve got a bead on the experiences we’re most wanting to gain from these outcomes, we can start to look at the opportunities to allow them to happen today.
Instead of hoping for some magical escape way out in the future, we can be responsible and act in the moment. If I’m feeling trapped, what will allow me to experience more freedom today? If I’m feeling drained, what will allow me to experience more aliveness today? If I’m feeling stressed out, what will allow me to experience more peace today? If I’m feeling isolated or distant, what will allow me to experience more love and connection today?
Instead of waiting for some fairy tale to come true so that we can have the experiences we most want, we can train ourselves to see the doorways to those experiences today or in the very near future.
Now there’s no free lunch here. This can be challenging because stepping into those opportunities and allowing those experiences into our lives may mean we’ll be taking some risks.
We may need to get off our butt and do the work if we want to experience greater aliveness. We may need to stop blaming others for our disappointment if we want to experience greater love and connection. We may need to stop avoiding the situation that’s stressing us out if we want to allow peace back into our lives. We may need to be bold and set some boundaries if we want to allow greater freedom into our day.
Bottom line, this process is designed to help you find out what’s really driving you, your goals for the future, and give you a more direct pathway to the experiences you ultimately want. By doing this you may find that you have a more lasting sense of fulfillment instead depriving yourself in hopes that it’ll all work out in the future.
It’s a practice. It’s not set-it-and-forget-it. It takes effort. It will encourage us to take risks. It will encourage us to step into uncertainty. I’m not going to paint some rosy new age bullshit picture that we’re going to be free from effort, uncertainty, and pain in this lifetime.
My desire is that this will help us enjoy more of the life we have right now. Instead of fixating on a future that doesn’t exist, I want us to access what we most want today. And we can do all of this while still building the future we want, too.
I hope this has been helpful for you. This is just a taste of the stuff I do with my clients and I’m writing about in my upcoming book. Here’s to all of us living with greater freedom, love, aliveness, and peace.
Thanks for listening.