Wednesday, 6 October 2010

To drift or not to drift...that is the question.

I once wrote a really corny song called "Follow your Bliss."  The lyrics went like this:

Good at everything; great at nothing.
I can't be like you, eyes set on one thing.
Life's more interesting when you let the current carry you.
I suppose that I could learn to swim against the tide,
It's not that I'm lazy,
It's just more fun floating.

Well guess what?  Turns out I am lazy!  And while "floating" has indeed afforded me a very interesting life, my aversion to five-year plans has finally caught up with me.  I have discovered that if I really want to "follow my bliss," I need to at least have a vague idea of where I want to end up.

Every seminar, workshop and book that I've ever attended or read on the subject of living an fulfilling life has stressed the importance of having a vision - a target to aim for.  Over the years I have made various half-hearted attempts to define my goals, but nothing has ever "stuck" with much energy or enthusiasm.

In her book The Right Questions:  Ten Essential Questions to Guide You to an Extraordinary Life, Debbie Ford likens a life without a vision to planning a road trip without a map.  She says, "If that was your strategy, you might never arrive at your destination.  With a map, if you made a wrong turn along the way, you wouldn't stop and spend five years beating yourself up.  You would pull over, look at your map, and get back on track."  She goes on, "Without vision it's easy to fall prey to the heat of the moment and the whims of your habitual behaviors."

So I pondered my lack of 'a master plan' and discovered that rather than having a plan of my own, I've had an "underlying commitment" (another of Debbie's terms) to finding 'a man with a plan.'  (It's true, and I am as shocked by this as you probably are.)  I've always considered myself a strong woman who can take care of herself, but the evidence is incontrovertible:  Husband number one - a brain surgeon;  Husband number two - a race-car driving property developer.  I have played at being self-sufficient (I have even been quite defensive about it!) but in reality I have made choices under the influence of an old wound - an unconscious fear that I am not worthy of success in my own right.  In reality there is nothing wrong with marrying successful, powerful people, but if it is covering up one's own unacknowledged desire for power and success, at the very least it can lead to resentment on both sides or, as in my case, two divorces. 

I am by no means alone here.  Question number three in Ford's book asks, "Am I standing in my power or am I trying to please another?"  I see this every day amongst my friends and family.  There is still an imbalance of power between the sexes, with too many women deciding that 'pleasing another' is their responsibility.  We set ourselves up to be martyrs, telling ourselves that "it's okay to abandon [ourselves] as long as we are making someone else happy." (Be it the kids, the husband, the dog...) I decided this long, long ago, believing (albeit unconsciously) that I'd be "too much" for people if I were to really shine.

So where does all this new insight leave me?  Well, I am pleased to say that I am working on a vision statement in earnest.  I've also decided that while my little song does have some truth to it - there is wisdom in allowing ourselves to drift along with the current - there's nothing wrong with keeping one hand on the rudder at the same time.


1 comment:

  1. That sounds like a very profound book. I wonder if there are aome questions I'd rather don't have an answer to...
    Don't get me wrong, I'd love that introspective journey.