(This post first appeared on Arthur Coddington’s Peak Performance website.)
The vision is set. The goals are in place. You are positioned in front of your computer, note book, or on your way to your office (even if that it is 30 second walk from bed to another room in the house), and nothing is going to stop you. Today is not only the first day of the rest of your life, but also the day that your life vision is to take birth — business, sport, learn a new musical instrument, walk round the world — the “what” does not matter. What does matter is that today is that day, finally, that you and the world (though they don’t know it yet) have been waiting for. You are about to launch yourself. Watch out everyone…
Fast forward to five o’clock in the evening. The fist pumping enthusiasm of earlier that day is still there, though perhaps not knocking the punch that it did that morning. You’ve read a few more blog posts than you intended, got to know your social media timelines more intimately, and got up to make yourself a few more hot drinks than you usually do. Hhmmm, what has happened to that “watch out world” enthusiasm of 8 hours ago? You are feeling deflated and struggling to find a kick, and on top of that there’s a hollow pit in your stomach due to the lack of accomplishment. All that reading that you had been doing had ratchet up your sense of untouchability. This was your year, month, day. Now was the time that you had been waiting for and you were now going to head out and live your dream…..but you feel it faltering before it reaches the first hurdle. Or perhaps to be more accurate, the hurdle was already sitting there, you just did not see it.
Wishing to live your dream, to make real that which you feel as though you were put on the earth to do requires of you resolution and strength that has to be fed from somewhere. That somewhere can in part come from close family, friends, a significant other, but there also needs to be an inner resource from which you can draw. This becomes even more relevant when there isn’t someone in the wings offering that support.
Any endeavor that is seeking to take us out of the norm that our everyday lives currently inhabit is like a call to adventure. Within that call are voices that are sitting there waiting to give us every good reason not to set off. If all that we rely on is an adrenaline fueled pump of energy to keep us going, we better have a good supply of Red Bull sitting in the refrigerator as sooner or later that initial surge is going to wane. As the initial enthusiasm dies off, the doubting voices will start to emerge out of the shadows telling us what a dodo we were to even think that we could embark on this journey in the first place. All best laid plans will in some way be rendered useless by the voices and slowly we’ll find ourselves dragged away from that which we believed in.
What we need to do is create a stronger base on which to build our vision. The foundation needs to be stronger. So what are the ingredients that can help to build that stronger foundation?
In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition before we start a meditation session we are instructed to set ourselves a motivation for engaging in the practice. This can be anything, but the one that is suggested within the Tibetan tradition is to familiarize ourselves better with our mind, so that we can develop it to be better able to help others. At the end of the session we dedicate any benefits, any insights gained from the practice to the accomplishment of the goal that we set ourselves at the outset. The reason behind this short ritual is to first set a direction and then cement within us what we have learnt from our meditation.
It is very easy to just plump ourselves down on the cushion to meditate and then jump up afterwards and get on with our day without reflecting on what we have just done. I’m not going to suggest that you will get no benefit from ‘just’ sitting but by engaging in the ritual of setting intention, the reason for which you are engaging in the meditation practice will become more firmly embedded within you. Even when you don’t feel like sitting, you’ll have your off days, the motivation can help bring you to the cushion. The distracting voices are kept at bay by your continual resolution to accomplish a goal, in this case developing a mind more infused with patience, love and compassion.
As we set ourselves our goals for that grand plan that we want to embark on, it is useful to stop for a moment (perhaps a day, a few quiet hours away when things are less hectic) and reflect and embed within in us what deep down inside is driving us. In our vision for our future were values. Our vision was built upon standards that we hold as very important and dear in our lives. However, in the enthusiasm and adrenaline high of wishing to succeed, we didn’t take time to cement within us what the dream was being birthed from.
To quiet the doubting voices we need to become deeply familiar and intimate with these values that drive us. Take a moment each day to remind yourself of what is driving you and use that as a resolution to drive yourself towards your goals.