In my work as a Life Architect, I have become increasingly aware of the growing sense that many individuals feel like they’re running as fast as possible but not getting where they want to go. I’ve discovered three challenges that commonly get in the way. Before sharing those with you, there is something even greater resting at the core of all of this — the lens through which we view our lives — also known as a paradigm.
Old paradigm: DO so you can HAVE so you can BE.
New paradigm: BE so you can DO so you can HAVE.
The old paradigm subscribes to the belief that what we HAVE determines who we will BE. Some of my happiest and most fulfilled clients are those who HAVE very little money and earthly possessions. And some of my most unhappy and unfulfilled clients are those who HAVE an abundance of money and material goods.
So how is it that one can HAVE everything they’ve ever wanted and yet feel so empty and unhappy? And how is it that one can have a very long “wish list” and yet BE so happy and fulfilled? Happiness and fulfillment is not created by material wealth or possessions — what we HAVE — but rather by who we are BEING and what we are DOING. I’m not suggesting that we all take a vow of poverty. There’s nothing wrong with HAVING things. The problems arise when we sacrifice who we are BEING for the sake of HAVING more. When we do that, we will never HAVE enough.
The new paradigm embraces the belief that when our life choices are informed by who we are BEING (our values and vision), what we DO (our mission) is a natural extension of this, and what we HAVE is enough.
Lynne Twist states it very eloquently in her book, The Soul of Money:
“If we let go of what we’re trying to get more of, which we really don’t need, it frees up reserves of vitality to make a difference with what we have. When you make a difference with what you have, it expands. This applies to love, to time, to relationships — and, of course, to money. If you sit down and make a difference with the money that you have, you will find that your experience of it expands, and you don’t have that focus on scrambling to get more of what you don’t really need — which is what most of us are so busy doing that we don’t even notice who we are and what we have. By contrast, the context of sufficiency is making a difference with who you are, what you have, and knowing that it’s whole, complete, and exactly enough. It’s perfection.”
When we operate under this new paradigm — BE so you can DO so you can HAVE — we make a shift in our entire belief system. We are no longer willing to negotiate who we BE so we can HAVE more.
As we look at our lives through this different lens, we can find more happiness and fulfillment by addressing three common challenges that get in the way. Identify which of these keeps you from putting your first things first:
- Clarity about priorities: who you want to be and what you want to do (goal setting)
- Organizing your time: taking specific actions that will help you accomplish your goals and stay focused on your priorities (planning and scheduling)
- Executing the plan: following through with intention and doing what you say you will do (accountability)
You may find that you are challenged by a combination of the above, or that you are really good at two areas, but you consistently fall short in a third one. Awareness is the first step. Changing habits is the second.
Today, February 17, is Random Acts of Kindness Day. This day serves as a great reminder of how easy it is to shift who we are BEING by making a conscious choice to DO something kind for someone else.