Friday, April 2, 2010

Pace or Push (Read Time: 4 min.)

Is my achieving my dream a product of my pacing myself OR pushing myself?

Have you ever asked the above question?

There are two schools of thought when it comes to achieving a life goal:

1) You can't "make" things happen
This is the Pace philosophy behind dream fulfillment. While there's always a necessity for preparation, this school of thought believes that you can't "make" things happen. Life's not on your timeclock. While there are things you can plan for and achieve at will, there are circumstances, people, and events that you absolutely cannot plan for. Because of this, your goal, in achieving any dream, is to be prepared for the opportunity when it presents itself rather than create the opportunity when you'd like it to present itself.

I call this letting things flow. The second school of thought behind dream fulfillment is this:

2) You are the master of your fate and have the power to create anything you want by sheer will, determination and hard work.
This is the Push philosophy behind dream fulfillment. In this school of thought, the idea is that there's nothing you can't have, do or be as long as you are willing to do whatever it takes to get there. If you want a certain job, knock on every door and, eventually, you'll get it. If you want to buy a certain car, work 2/3/4 jobs until you have it.

I call this forcing the process.

Obviously, the way to go is #1- flowing with life, rather than forcing it. The reality is that there are many circumstances and experiences where we're not sure whether we're forcing or flowing with life, whether we're pacing ourselves through preparation or pushing ourselves through hard work.

Let me give you an example:
You decide you want to have a baby. You tell your spouse. You both think it's the right time. You start trying. Six months pass by. A year passes by. Two years pass by. Nothing happens. At this point, both of you stop and say "Are we flowing with this or are we forcing this?" And guess what? The answer on that is not clear cut and dry.

In the midst of this experience, you won't know 100% that this is the right or wrong time to have a baby. In fact, you won't know until years after the event occurs (or doesn't occur). What you do know is that, in every life situation, there's a part that you do control and a big part that you don't. It's important to be willing to take the driver's seat and be at the forefront of all the aspects that are within your grasp. But it's equally important to know when to let go and let God, when to accept what is and love it as it is... until it changes.

That's the hard part for most of us. Most of us want to buy in to the idea that all of life is within our control, that as long as we can work hard and long, we can have everything we want... and that simply isn't true.

You see, life's seemingly bad experiences come as great teachers. The downs teach us to appreciate the ups. The obstacles teach us how to overcome them. The tragedies remind us that we are not our circumstances nor are we limited to our experiences.

At the end of the day, you can make each day about "pushing" yourself to your dreams... or you can live each day by pacing yourself towards your success. One is about force and the other is about flow...
How will you know if you're pacing or pushing?

Pushing feels tense and difficult. When you are trying to make something happen in your life that it simply isn't time for, nothing seems to work. No matter how hard you try, no matter how long you work, no matter how much you do, nothing seems to come out right. When you feel and experience that, know that you are pushing through your life and it's getting you no where. The best thing to do, in this scenario, is to stop, breath, and let whatever goal you're overly committed to go. That doesn't mean you stop preparing. That simply means that you stop demanding that the outcome show up in your life in your timing and in the way you expect it to show up.

When you are pacing yourself, you remain focused on the why and the what of your dream by taking daily actions towards it but you are not obsessed with how or when it's going to show up in your life. You find the enjoyment in the small steps towards the goal, feeling confident that the dream is coming to pass, and not requiring that it do so in a specific interval of time. It's hard to do this day in and day out. There are going to be impatient moments but the second impatience sets in, understand that you have switched from pace to push... and you have the power to switch right back.

I'm going to talk more about living a life by pace in the next post. Stay tuned...