Some people come to me because they have a goal they want to achieve; others come in search of a deeper knowing of themselves, to shift old ingrained patterns and habits; still others come to recapture their zest for life, seeking to reconnect to joy and adventure. And every once in while, I meet someone who is lost, floating rudderless and without mooring because they have fallen victim to their own success.
Have you noticed how often it is at the very pinnacle of professional achievement that we hear the Broadway actress or the successful lawyer or the best-selling author questioning “Is this all there is?”
Take my client Rebecca for example. A respected doctor, proud parent and loving wife, she had been following the path to achievement for as long as she could remember.
Pre-med, medical school, building her practice, becoming an expert in her field, each step followed the one before as she reached for professional excellence.
Voted one of the top docs in her major metropolitan area and with the financial means to do whatever she wanted in life, one would expect Rebecca to be flying high.
Like so many, having reached the top of a mountain which she had been climbing for decades, Rebecca found herself with nowhere else to climb. Without that next challenge, her sense of purpose dwindled, without direction or motivation she found herself losing interest in her life.
Dissatisfied with the idea of spending the next 50 years hanging out on scenic vistas, she sought support to begin to unlock the dreams still waiting to be born. It was time for her to create a new inspired future to live into.
A Life Without An Inspired Future Is Like The Coyote Without The Roadrunner!
We all remember the old Looney Tunes Cartoons where Wile E. Coyote spends episode after episode in the tireless pursuit of the ever-elusive Roadrunner.
Imagine for a moment what Wile E’s life would become if he ever managed to catch and eat his infamous foe?
It would be tragic! Not just for the Roadrunner (obviously) but for Wile E. too!
No more concocting ingenious schemes, no more plummeting off cliffs, no more crates arriving from ACME! (As a point of interest, acme means the highest point, as of achievement or development.)
Wile E.'s future, the one where he catches and eats his tantalizing Roadrunner, would be expired.
Left without a goal, a purpose, a raison d’etre, nothing left to compel or propel him, Wile E. would be set adrift. Life as he knows it would cease to exist!
Inspired Future: When we are heading towards something worthy and meaningful, weather it is building a career, exploring vegetarianism, learning to ski or seeking God, the draw of a future that inspires us, one born out of our own longing for life, pulls us into new adventures, provides opportunities for learning and gives purpose to our days.
Expired Future: When we reach our goal, that thing we have been seeking, the future that we were pursuing has effectively expired. It is behind us, a thing of the past, and without something new to pull us forward life can enter into a disconcerting and life-sucking limbo.
Coach Help Me! I think My future Just Expired!
If you can relate with either of these stories, you may just have an Expired Future on your hands.
Let’s take a look:
Figure A) and B) below demonstrate the energizing effect of an Inspired Future; one which authentically engages you and pulls you to its completion.
Figure C) shows the drain that often follows the thrill of the finish-line, when you move past the vision you had and into the abyss. The future you once held so tightly no longer has value or provides meaning. It has effectively expired.
Figure D) holds the remedy. By selecting a new, heartfelt and worthy point on the horizon you put the wind back in your sales with a new Inspired Future.
Does this mean that we must forever be in the dogged pursuit of lofty goals, fame, money, success – always accomplishing without a moment to breathe or rest in order to live a good life?
No, of course not. But it does mean that your life needs purpose.
Whether it is exploring the practice of being in the moment, learning to paint or seeking to be the best spouse or parent you can be, no goal is too great or too small to be inspired. It must simply come from the authentic longings of your heart.
The next time you happen to be rounding out a major accomplishment:
1) Be sure to celebrate, BIG TIME!
2) When the excitement wears off and you find yourself wondering “what’s next?”, remember that it is natural to feel a little disconnected, uninspired or let down after the future you once courageously pursued is old news. Do not fear. This feeling need only be temporary.
3) Reconnect and reengage in your life – look, listen, explore. There is always a new Inspired Future waiting to bring energy, joy and meaning to your days.
It may take some soul searching but trust me. With as many worthy journeys as there are drops of water in the ocean, it is only a matter of time and intention before life sweeps you up in a new adventure.