How to Stop Obsessing Over the Outcome and Follow Your Dreams NowNone By Shannon Kaiser
We secretly wait in vain on the path to becoming our better self. We want to become the person who has reached the goal, the relationship, the healthy weight, or abundant bank account. We believe we are almost there but just not quite. This is the almost-paradise syndrome. I have a friend who’s talked about winning the lottery for the past twenty years. She always says, “When I win the lottery, I will buy a new car. When I win the lottery, I will invest in the self-development online program I’ve always wanted to take.” It is always when I “get,” then I will “do.” I always want to say, “Why don’t you do that now? Why is the lottery standing in your way?” Truth be told, if you really wanted it, couldn’t you find a way to get it now? Yes, in fact this is the mindset we want to adopt. In order to reach our true potential, we have to show up for ourselves in the present by following through on our dreams right now, not later.
When we say things like “When I win the lottery, when I lose weight or meet my soul mate, then I will be happy,” we are subconsciously sending a message to ourselves that we don’t matter and our desires are not a worthy pursuit. Meaning, we are waiting for external factors: the lottery, the boss to give us the raise, another person to fill the romantic void, etc. In doing this we are settling. I call this the almost-paradise syndrome. The almost-paradise is the pursuit of becoming but with an attention on lack. We want something that has not yet arrived, so we focus more on how it is not here. This lack builds up and prevents us from further pursuing our true desires. It keeps us in a holding pattern. Twenty years later my friend has still to win the jackpot because she is stuck in almost-paradise.
Life is in this moment, not tomorrow. The greatest gift The Self-Love Experiment can give us is to fully understand that paradise is right here, always. It is not in some far-off dream always beyond our grasp — it is within us, in our hearts. Paradise is realizing that you are perfect, in this moment, just as you are.
One of my favorite movies, The Beach, based on the book by Alex Garland, is about the pursuit of perfection. The movie is filled with metaphors and idealistic forms of life. For many of us, no matter our age, background, economic, religious, social preferences, we are always in search of something. As quoted therein: We circle our lives trying to find that missing piece, as if paradise will give us our happy ending. And as Richard, the main character, says, “Never refuse an invitation, never resist the unfamiliar, never fail to be polite, and never outstay the welcome. Just keep your mind open and suck in the experience. And if it hurts, you know what? It's probably worth it.”
That's the thing about striving — it sometimes hurts. Waiting for our outcome becomes painful, but the hurt is part of the experience of life. The setbacks, the pain, the missed opportunities and failures all amount to this moment, and this moment matters because paradise is not tomorrow, it is today.
The main character, Richard, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, goes on to say, “You hope and you dream. But you never believe that something's gonna happen for you. Not like it does in the movies. And when it actually does, you want it to feel different, more visceral, more real.”
This is why the almost-paradise syndrome feels so natural, because when we do get what we’ve been waiting for, it feels different than what we thought. Many of us skip over it quickly in pursuit of a bigger, newer, shinier paradise.
As Alex Garland writes in The Beach, “I still believe in paradise. But now at least I know it's not some place you can look for, 'cause it's not where you go. It's how you feel for a moment in your life when you're a part of something, and if you find that moment ... it lasts forever."
What is your paradise, that ultimate goal and desire you’ve been working so hard towards? Ask yourself what the real feeling you want is. For example, maybe you want to meet your soul mate. You crave a relationship with a partner who understands you, loves you for who you are and respects and admires you. The outcome you are focusing on of course is meeting a partner, we think the getting what we want will give us what we need but the opposite is true. When we do this we are so focused on the outcome. The truth is we must give ourselves what we desire first, and then it can come to us much easier. If you want a soul mate so you can feel loved, first love yourself. Understand yourself, respect and admire you.
If you give yourself what you want first, then you will see it is all in you already.
Shannon Kaiser is the author of The Self-Love Experiment: Fifteen Principles for Becoming More Kind, Compassionate, and Accepting of Yourself (TarcherPerigee), as well as Adventures for Your Soul, Find Your Happy, and Find Your Happy Daily Mantras. She has been named among the "top 100 women to watch in wellness" by Mind Body Green. She is a six-time contributing author to Chicken Soup for the Soul and an international life coach and speaker. Learn more at www.playwiththeworld.com.
Adapted with permission from The Self-Love Experiment: Fifteen Principles for Becoming More Kind, Compassionate, and Accepting of Yourself by Shannon Kaiser. © 2017 by Shannon Kaiser. TarcherPerigee, an imprint of Penguin Random House.
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