“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” ― Rumi
When we’re young we have such amazing dreams but, as we grow up, we end up conforming to the point where we walk and talk like everyone else.
Afraid of losing what we’ve got.
And that’s perfectly understandable: what you have may be wonderful, but judging by the malaise I encounter every day, most people wish it otherwise.
Now we have to be very careful that we don’t end up chasing shadows, or, more specifically, our egoic identity doesn’t subsume every waking hour to the point where nothing will ever satisfy us. (As someone who, for a long time, moved from place to place, job to job and experience to experience, I can tell you that the most profound realisation was to accept this moment. Or as Eckhart Tolle has said, to accept this moment as if you had chosen it.)
Acknowledging the tension between the ego and the need to become the person we always dreamed of isn’t easy. In a sense, you shouldn’t need to chase anything if this moment is already perfect but that would be too easy. More than that, it would mean the innate pull of something higher, i.e. music, art or building something of value, would be left to waste, and for some people that would drive them mad by dint of stifling their unexpressed gifts.
Perhaps I can put this another way. What if money wasn’t the object of your attention but, instead, you did something that brought you to full realisation?
Would you still be doing what you’re doing now?
I bloody hope not.
The next question is of course why you’re not doing it?
Your response: money.
And round and round we go.
There’s no right or wrong answer to this save initially to acknowledge that there’s more to living than paid work but at some stage you have to decide if you’re going to finally give up on your dreams, park them until you’re too old to have the energy to pursue them (i.e. retirement) or fight your inner demons, start now and begin to live true to who you are.
As to the latter posture, habits are everything. Not the “when I have the time” type but the baby steps that you build on each and every day.
Take something like art. So many people are hugely creative and yet the moment they leave school they give it all up. If that’s you then tiny habits work by doing the smallest possible thing each and every day, i.e. to buy a brush and paint one line, and to continue to build on that every single day.
Forget the 21-day mantra. This is about doing something every day for a long time. Trust me, you’ll get frustrated with the very small steps and what you’ll find is that you do more and more to the point where even if you’re only painting for 10 minutes a day, at least you’re putting paint to paper or canvas and starting to exercise that creative muscle that you’ve long since ignored.
I suppose what this comes down to is an acknowledgement that you can grow into your true self but it won’t happen unless you act, which means fighting the Resistance (see The War of Art by Steven Pressfield) and adopting tiny habits to make something a reality.
Of course, you could just decide that now is not the right time, and stay exactly as you are. That’s fine but then you need to accept everything fully about your life, cease living in your head and put away all those long-forgotten dreams.
The choice is yours.