I have been in a very quiet, contemplative place lately, watching as some new energy percolates and rises to the surface, and I am now in a place where I am ready to declare independence for myself. I am declaring independence from the belief that I have to make my life match up to anyone else’s definitions of success for my life, as well as from all the places in my mind telling me that my life should somehow be in any way different from the way it is right now.
About six years ago I decided to leave the work-a-day world and go into business for myself. I’ve spent a large portion of those years with different classes, workshops, books, seminars, and programs designed for entrepreneurs. It’s all great information, especially since I was on a pretty steep learning curve. But I’ve reached the point now where those products are actually keeping me out of my life.
I realized that what I genuinely desire, and what the people who produce those products desire, are not the same thing. And I’ve been making myself wrong and feeling guilty for wanting what I truly want, and not wanting what they say I should want. Let me explain.
After six years of trying out a lot of different possibilities, I realized that my goal in life is not to be a worker/earner. If I had to give a name to my “reason for being”, I would say that I am a spiritual contemplative/mystic/writer/professional dreamer. So I like working about 10-12 hours a week, with lots of time left to create a nurturing home, take care of the errands of daily life, maintain my connections with other people, think, observe, process life, and create.
I like that the way I contribute to and help change the world is through working on myself, and transforming my connections to the people around me, one encounter at a time.
Unfortunately, even in the personal growth/New Thought community, that business model is never really presented as a viable option. It seems to me that whenever people are talking about things like The Secret, and The Law Of Attraction, and other principles of Deliberate Creation, the emphasis is always on BIGGER, and MORE. If the concept of “enough” is ever addressed, it only seems to be in the manner of finding a way to temporarily let what you have be “enough”, only so it can move you to a different place where you can finally get MORE. There doesn’t seem to be much work addressing the question of genuinely being satisfied and feeling like you have enough.
And that is where I started to feel disconnected from the popular concept of personal growth, because I could no longer ignore the fact that I am really satisfied with my life right now.
I have no interest in figuring out how to get more clients or earn more money in my tutoring business. The work and income I have now is enough, and more than enough, for me right now financially.
I have no desire to “maximize my earning potential” by figuring out ways to reach the masses and distance myself from people on an individual basis. What I love about my work is its personal, one-on-one nature.
I have always been so afraid to just stop reaching and say, “This is my life.” I’ve worried that somehow that was “settling”, or being lazy, or would make me miss out on something that I really wanted.
Po Bronson has a great quote about this very issue in his book, Why Do I Love These People? He says, “It’s said that there are four basic fears inherent to the nature of existence-you can have some of these fears no matter how well you might have been raised. They are The Fear of Dying, the Fear of Having to Choose, The Fear of Ending Up Alone, and The Fear That the World Is Intrinsically Meaningless. Anne realized that she definitely had this Fear of Having to Choose. Because she had always assumed that having it all was possible, she had never really forced herself to make a choice. She had never recognized that making choices-and being okay with the fact that this means that there are other choices you will never get to taste and experience-was essential to being at peace in the world.”
That’s where I am right now. I feel like I am settling into my place here in this world, like I’m spreading out and inhabiting all the nooks, crannies, and spaces of my life. I am saying, “This is my piece of work in the grand scheme of things. I cannot do everything, nor do I have to.” I’m declaring, “I am choosing this. That means that I am not choosing those other things, and am instead letting them go.”
For example, I recently met with a new client who needed some tutoring. After one session I could tell that this student needed help I couldn’t provide. But what I was able to do was to specifically identify and articulate to the parents exactly what kind of support the student needed, which was information they hadn’t had before.
Prior to this point in my life I would have acted completely differently in this situation. I would’ve taken the student on, tried to become an expert overnight in an area in which I have no expertise (or interest), tried to singlehandedly launch the student from an “F” to an “A”, plus tried to find a way to capture this process into some kind of product and market it to the masses, so that I would be able to make a bajillion dollars.
But now I am just sitting with the experience and considering the possibility, what if what I did was enough? What if my job was just to provide this one piece of the puzzle, and now my work in this situation is complete?
It takes an awful lot of courage to live this way, to pry my grasping fingers away from attempting to control all outcomes, and to live in a space of “not-knowing”.
But it’s also kind of exciting. It’s exciting to look around me and say, “Okay, this is my sphere of influence. This is my metaphorical â€˜patch of land’ to tend in this life. I wonder what’s here.”
For one thing, this blog is here. And everything I’ve worked through regarding my business also applies here. I finally got tired of always comparing myself to other blogs and bloggers, and always feeling that my blog was never quite good enough.
And when I got really honest with myself, I realized that right now I don’t actually want the kind of results that someone like dooce gets, no matter what the prevailing wisdom says about what I “should” want to accomplish with my blog. For example, I love when people comment on my posts, but I’m pretty sure that if my posts routinely got hundreds of comments, I would most likely have a nervous breakdown. Because what I love about my blog is that I am able to respond personally to my readers, and again make personal, one-on-one connections. So in fact, I’m actually getting exactly the results I want with my blog.
So there you have it, for whatever it’s worth. One woman finally giving herself permission to want what she wants, let the rest go, and enjoy having “enough” in her life.
And it is very, very good.
Jean Browman--Cheerful Monk says
Amen to that! We’re kindred spirits on this, which is why I’m one of your biggest fans. I’m at the stage of life where I no longer have to work, so I do some volunteering. I choose the projects based on my personality and talents as well as how much I believe in the cause. I’m a great believer in moodling time, and I make sure I have plenty of it in my life.
Thanks for the great post!
LOVE this, Jenny. A manifesto for Enough.
I will take this with me into my awareness this week and appreciate my sphere of influence even more.
Welcome home, Sistah 🙂
Now that’s using your powers for good! Love it.
wishing you continued awareness, validation & power as you nurture and tend your ‘patch of land’ – as always, on your side…Love, Glenda
Mary mert says
What a powerful realization! I bet you feel so free right now, and peaceful. 😀 Good for you, you deserve all the peace you canget, especially after being ill for so many months.
As far as blogging, i couldn’t agree more. I can barely keep up with the 15 regulars I have.
Square Peg says
Yes, the major religions generally say we should rid ourselves of worldly desires. But they don’t tell you what to do after that, do they? I guess they’re thinking no one’s ever gonna get to that point.
I’m glad you figured it out. Right now I’m trying to come to terms with having Too Much!
wowee gazawee. just what i needed to hear. thank you so much, jenny. as always, your on the “pulse” of what is going on with me. so strange, all these miles away and not ever having actually met you in person. love when that happens. oxxo wendy on whidbey
Jean Browman--Cheerful Monk says
I just want you to know I came back to visit this post again. It reminds me of a time when I was in college and doing very well there. A friend said we could do anything we wanted to in life, and he and was pleased at the freedom and power that gave us. I didn’t feel that way at all. I didn’t want unlimited freedom and possibility. I felt there was a path that was right for me and my job was to discover it.
It also reminds me of a time when my sister and I were fairly young and taking tap dancing lessons. We had a recital just before Christmas and for some reason all the kids could go through a line and choose the toys they wanted. My sister and I considered it carefully and each chose a ball. After we were through we saw all the other kids with arm loads of toys and felt a bit foolish that we hadn’t taken more. But on the way home we were really pleased with our balls and decided we wished the rule had been we could pick only one thing. It was clear to us then that choosing carefully and appreciating what you chose was the way to real happiness. A pile of stuff wouldn’t have meant as much.
Thanks again for this post and your blog.
Jean Browman--Cheerful Monk says
I wrote about you yesterday at http://cheerfulmonk.com/2008/03/10/what-do-you-really-believe-what-do-you-really-want/