Do you ever get the feeling that the spiritual version of yourself is fighting with the material version of yourself?
The bigger the gap between who you are and what you want, the more anxiety, angst, and stress you will feel. How can you close the gap between the two in order to live the highest version of yourself?
The reason this gap occurs is because your values are something you can’t physically touch—you can’t hold them in your hand. You can only experience them through experience, participation, and pursuit. The material goals we chase are much easier not only for us to see and feel, but for others to see and feel as well. This makes them more real to us and much more desirable.
Have you ever really taken time out to not only ask yourself questions like this, but to actually answer them? Questions such as:
- What do I want to be?
- Who do I want to be?
- What is important to me?
- What really matters to me in my life?
Think about this for a second. What happened the last time you didn’t achieved a goal set for yourself? You might have been upset for a little bit. Now think about the last time you went against a personal value you set for yourself: maybe you were dishonest and lied to someone close to you, stole something, or lashed out at someone. I bet that felt much worse than the former.
So how can you close the gap between your values and your goals and make them work together to create a better version of yourself?
Consistency first, intensity second
It’s easy to attack the things you want most in life like a bat outta hell. Maybe you want to lose 20 pounds this month so you decide to hit the gym 7 days a week, run 5 miles a day, and eat nothing but chicken and broccoli. The next thing you know, you’re a week in, you’re exhausted, grumpy, and your entire body aches because you haven’t been active in years.
Slow down a bit. I’m a big believer in attacking life with some serious gusto but most things are not going to happen overnight. Set yourself up for success by creating a plan that you can maintain over the long haul.
Make sure that your plan of attack is something you can actively participate in each day. Create tiny wins for yourself everyday to build confidence and momentum. If you desire to write a book commit to writing a 1,000 words per day as opposed to the whole dang thing.
What are some ways you can start and end your day that can help you keep up the momentum? You may find that your daily practices might not even be related to what you are trying to achieve. Personally, if I start my day with exercise, meditation, and some reading I feel accomplished already. I find that I have much more energy and enthusiasm to tackle the rest of the day.
Accept the ups and downs
There’s a great saying in The Book of Understanding: Creating your own path to freedom.
“…He is ready to destroy the roses just to avoid the thorns.”
Every path to ecstasy has an alternative path to agony. Don’t avoid being the person you truly are because the other side of the path might be difficult; accept that the road will be difficult, but have confidence that you can with stand it. Look back to past experience where you have overcome difficult situations, and use those as markers of what you are truly capable of.
Practice difficult situations. Get use to being comfortable with the uncomfortable. Participate in regular personal challenges that get you outside of your comfort zone and force you to see and experience new things, such as:
- Cold showers
- Eating lunch with a stranger
- Dancing in the middle of a crowded place
It’s not always one thing versus another
It’s not always good versus bad, you against the world, dark chocolate versus milk chocolate. Those are simply definitions we give to circumstances in order to create less anxiety for ourselves. When we don’t understand something or are confused, we experience anxiety and stress. The easiest thing to do when faced with anxiety, and the best response to it is do define it so you can try to give it meaning as quickly has possible.
There are a million and one ways to interpret a situation, circumstance, or event. Focus on your response to the situation whether it is good, bad, or somewhere in between. What is your next step? What can you do this moment that is in line with the the person you want to be, and builds momentum in the direction you want to go?
You can’t always control the outcome of a situation, but you can always control your response.
When things aren’t going right, it’s a wake-up call
Sometimes it can feel like nothing is going right. Take this as a wake-up call that your not living and making decisions based on your values and what is most important to you. This is gut check time: ask yourself what you’re doing and what decisions you’re making consistently that have been leading to these outcomes.
Avoid placing blame on others or circumstances—where you are and who you are right now is a collection of the decisions, choices, and habits that you display on a daily basis.
Be responsible, but not in the traditional sense
When I hear the word “responsible”, I think of things I have to be doing, but the truth is no-one has to do anything. You always have a choice. Sometimes that choice is more difficult to make than others, but you always have it. In Latin, to be “responsible” means to promise something in return for something else. Promise yourself to live a life guided by the things that are most important to you—your values, whatever they may be.
Take time out to define what your values are and promise to live everyday by them in return for your happiness. In the same way that we need air and water to survive, we need personal growth to avoid frustration. It is inherent in us as humans to want to be more, achieve more, do more, and learn more. Don’t fight the desire—embrace it—and do so in a manner that is aligned with your highest self.