The night Michael and I found out that I was pregnant, and nearly everyday since, we’ve talked about Dylan’s future education. While Dylan was cooking in utero, we determined that he would attend either the same private co-ed high school that I did, or another (rival) private school that is for all boys. Both institutions are excellent and both are currently about $14,000 per year right now. Taking into consideration inflation plus a little over a decade until Dylan gets there, it’s safe to guestimate a sum that is the equivalent of today’s state college tuition.
Looking ahead towards a closer future, Michael and I also have a pretty deep desire to send our only son to a private elementary school that costs the same as private colleges do now. We desire these educational options deeply for many personal reasons, but standing where we stand right now these desires look really close to impossible. Standing where we stand right now, which is the beginning phases of launching three companies, this desire comes off as overwhelming. So overwhelming in fact you almost feel like writing it off.
Well I have written off goals and desires of my own before due to the sheer thought of exhaustion of would it would take to get there. I’m not lazy by any means, but when you are young and have no clue what you are doing or how to get there, overwhelm can lead you to get lost. No matter what I have written in the past, being overwhelmed by a large goal with no real plan to get there is the real reason Why I am Not A Lawyer. Perhaps if this desire for Dylan’s private education was about me, I would then subconsciously self sabotage once again. However, this desire has to do with Dylan and Dylan’s future. So through my sheer willingness, him going to an exclusive school, which he may even hate me for later, will either happen because we take small consistent steps to ensure it’s possibility, or it will not happen because we will change our minds based on additional criteria gathered in the 13 years between now and then.
See what happened at the end there? I remembered to take into consideration that things change. Somewhere among your dreaming of your desire, your movement towards it, and it coming about, you inevitably gather new data that ends up influencing you to change your trajectory. New Intel comes to you right on time that makes what you once so deeply desired no longer a good fit. You meet someone and it leads you down a different path towards your goals. A opportunity serendipitously becomes yours, or what you once wanted now ceases to exist. You have to leave room in your desire process to let God in. It’s what us Buddhists refer to as “releasing attachment”.
Buddhists believe that hanging on to any thing, person, or idea with a kung foo death grip is what causes suffering. It causes suffering because there is a great deal in this life that is beyond our control. Allowing our identities to become tied into what we so dearly desire is unsustainable. This is the reason why so many people have the experience of losing their shit after a loss. They can’t get the picture of how they thought it was going to be out of their head. We all do it to varying degrees.
Using my above scholastic example in conjunction with releasing attachment; what if in 13 years all education included creativity, art, free thinking, entrepreneurship, and all kinds of nifty things that I can’t possibly think of on my own, and private schools as we know it look different? What if Michael, Dylan, and I are taken by our life’s path to live in Chicago and there is a public performing art school that he chooses instead? What if my best friend whom I have known since we in preschool, has the opportunity to teach Dylan’s 7th grade class in a public school?
Now what if I do not release the attachment to my private school ideology and I never take any of this into consideration? What if instead, I become an obsessive maniac about attaining enough wealth to send Dylan to a $30k per year elementary school? What if I put off launching our businesses because it will take too much time, and instead take a position making $110,000 per year at a law firm that really can’t stand, but hey, I can afford tuition!
Attachment also applies to material things. For instance the Range Rover HSE that I shall have. What if I relentlessly pursuit my ability to own a Range Rover, whereby shoving off my divine life’s purpose until my goal is met? Forsaking my happiness now so that I can be happy later driving an HSE? What would that teach my son? How would my being unfulfilled and unhappy in the short term so I can hopefully be happy in the long term change our relationship? Or his relationship with women in his future? Is a car that will be unloved and not driveable in 10 years time worth my son being confused about the true meaning of success or not feeling valued? Or a school for that matter when what he learns at home is indefinitely more valuable to his personal foundation?
In the pursuit of whatever you want, you have to be down for anything. (tweet it!) Also, you should ask yourself a lot of questions along the way. Allowing enough room inside of your dreams and goals is key to getting whatever you want. Treating these goals and dreams as organic living things that need nurturing is what every single Richard Branson will tell you that you have to do. Have you ever got tunnel vision so bad that you steam rolled towards something that you no longer had to, or weren’t a good fit for? Of course you have. We all do it. The question to ask yourself is, are you doing it right now? If you are, here are the steps to help you stop;
1. Know what you want
What you want will change over and over again, but it will basically be the same. We may change our minds about Dylan attending my alma matter, but our basic desire for a sound education that Michael and I can be interactive partners with will not change. In addition, understanding what your non-negotiable standards are, and then honoring them, is a huge factor of knowing what you want. Humans are creatures that adjust desires based on new information, but those desires should never dip below our own personal fine lines.
2. Be patient
Patience is not my favorite thing. However, I now understand that everything that we so desire for our lives takes time. It takes a lot of time actually. To give you an analogy, Rome wasn’t built in one day. For if it had been, it more than likely wouldn’t exist today.
Measuring where you are today up against the process of attaining what it is that you want is overwhelming and unfair to do to yourself. Maybe it won’t take as long as you think. Maybe something comes along in 3 months that changes the time line. No matter how long it takes, getting what you want will definitely take additional sets of skills and understanding than you currently have right now. You will obtain these skills and this understanding as you take consistent and persistent daily action towards what you want. In fact, the only way to obtain these skills and this understanding is to move towards your desires. Ironic isn’t it?
3. Be happy. Now.
Being happy right now, in the process, despite the fact that you do not currently have what you want is the magic sauce. It puts out great vibes for all of your desires to come to you, not unlike a homing beacon. It keeps you moving toward what it is that you want too because when you are not happy you can then use the change as a marker to find your way back to your path.
Being happy now means that even if you do not get what you want because it wasn’t meant for you, you will have never placed your happiness on hold, and that you know the significance of the journey and not just the end result. Waiting to be happy is a horrible existence to live in. Wanna know how I know this?
4. Love yourself limitless
Love yourself enough to have really big goals. Don’t sell yourself short based on what it is that you know and have experienced today. There are things, people, places, and opportunities that you have never thought of as a possibility because you do not yet know that they exist. Love yourself enough to allow different and unimaginable possibilities.
5. Let go. Just freakin’ let go.
Be Buddhist for a minute, and release expectations. Have your basic plan, but leave room for change, for growth, for magic, for things to turn out better than you can picture them right now with your current understanding. Anything can happen and you have to factor that into your desire striving. In order to not get knocked off course, pay attention to everything and everyone that comes to you; will it bring you closer to what you desire or further away? Is it in alignment with where you are going and how you are currently traveling there? Is it something to be considered for future reference?
I know that the above steps seem simple in logic, but a tad overwhelming when you think about practicing them. Just know that getting whatever it is that you want isn’t always hard. It isn’t always this sweat-upon-our-brow-hard-slog of a time. Actually it’s quite pleasant and mostly enjoyable. There will be times of rolling up your sleeves and digging in, you can count on it, but mostly it is a process of intuition and imagination. The road getting “there” should also take you back in time to when you played pretend and physically acted out dreams. Like when you used to sing into your hair brush like Madonna. Ok, maybe you can’t be Madonna because she’s already taken, but do you like to perform? Is there something that you desire to do in front of an audience? It’s ok to keep singing into your hairbrush until you figure it out you know. In fact, physically daydreaming is actually how you figure out what you want.
Getting what we want is within our control and only our control. No one else can give us what we want and us continue to be happy long term. There will be key players that present opportunities, support, guidance, mentor-ship and the like because no man is an island, but getting what we want is an inside job. Someone handing you your dreams without you having done the introspection and enjoyable work to get there is a recipe to have it all taken away at a moments notice. Because what is giveth can be taketh.
Whether the desire you have is big or small, or whether or not it is within the foreseeable future, or the future future, we can all have whatever we want. No matter how bold it looks to us right now. Isn’t that something 🙂