Do you live a life where you are constantly telling yourself you’ll be happy when ____ (insert achievement here) happens? Have you ever noticed how nothing ever makes you permanently happy once you achieve it? This has been the story of my life and I wanted to share with you how I overcame the “I’ll be happy when mentality…” Let’s start with my story!
In May 2015, I moved across the country from Chicago to San Diego. It was a goal I had set a couple years prior and achieving it meant a lot to me. By August 2015, the high had worn off and I began questioning (yet again) if anything would ever make me truly happy. I realized that I had hit so many goals in my life (quitting smoking, graduating college in 3 1/2 years with two majors, losing weight, starting my own business, etc.)…but they all seemed to only provide me with temporary happiness. It wasn’t long before the high would wear off and I’d just move onto the next thing. Many of my clients relate to this.
The come down from moving to San Diego was much harsher than the other come downs I had previously experienced. Mostly because I was so aware of this pattern that I had a habit of regularly creating in my life. I had been conscious of it for at least a few years by the time this experience hit. I was frustrated that I hadn’t “figured out” how to stop living like this yet. This made me determined to figure out why I kept doing this to myself so I could put an end to the cycle.
At the time, I decided to take a bit of a break from my goals. I had been hitting my spiritual path pretty hard and had been in constant transition and transformation since 2010. My whole life had consisted of me chasing goal after goal and feeling unfulfilled in-between accomplishments. I was ready to take a little break from all of it and live life a little bit more relaxed. I’m not going to lie, it felt a little empty. There was also a huge part of me that wondered if I was making the right choice. But there was also another part of me that was so sick of being so serious about achieving that was ready to rebel against the old way of doing things.
To start with letting go of the “I’ll be happy when…” mentality, I released my pattern of setting goals. Which is saying a lot, because goal-setting was a daily part of my life for a really long time. I was constantly preparing for the future. So much so, that I often missed what was happening in the present. I took what work was coming to me and shifted my attention to my social life. I allowed myself to date (which I hadn’t done too much of since starting my business) and gave myself permission to act like a normal human being. As a recovering type-A perfectionist, it felt a little reckless at first, but it also felt good.
I also began reflecting on all of the times I had told myself that I’d be happy once ___ (insert goal here) was complete. I really recognized how untrue it was and all of the ways that it kept me from being happy in the present moment. I knew deep down that being dissatisfied in the present moment made me less of an energetic match for my desires. I had experienced this quite a few times since I starting my spiritual path. I knew that I always received the best results in my life when I learned to be OK with where I was at. And that I received even better results when I was able to be grateful too, but I’m not going to lie…sometimes that was really hard (like when my apartment was destroyed for a remodel that didn’t happen on schedule and I didn’t have a shower for six months-lol). So, while there were things I definitely wanted to shift in my life, I learned to focus on what I appreciated the best I could. Simultaneously, I held space in my heart for my desires that were yet to show up. But I didn’t take any action. I just thought of them from time to time and tried not to do so in a longing type of way.
Over the next year, so many things shifted in my life. At first, it looked like everything was getting worse. I got really sick because of long-term stress I had been struggling with, my business took a dip in revenue, and I gained weight despite doing yoga every single day and eating healthy (which was ironic, because at one point I was a weight loss coach). Needless to say, my ego was having a hard time with all of the changes. It kind of felt like this other way of living just made things worse, but deep down my intuition whispered that I was doing the right thing.
Over time, I realized that I had needed to accomplish all of these goals in order to feel like I was worthy. I began to connect with myself more deeply during my yoga classes until I could hear my inner voice that told me that I was OK now…and that there was nothing I needed to do to be “enough”. It seemed like the more I took care of my mind, body, and spirit, the more confidence I gained. The more confidence I gained in my connection with myself, the less I needed those external accomplishments to feel good about myself. Then, I was free. Free to do the work that I came here to do without judging myself or holding myself to ridiculous expectations. And that was the most beautiful gift at all.
Eventually, my health restored itself, my business started doing better, and I started releasing the weight I had gained. But none of that was able to occur until I became satisfied with where I was in the present moment.
Remember, setting and accomplishing goals is not the problem. The problem is when you feel like you are not good enough today, right now. Just a friendly reminder in case you needed it…you are worthy now!
Now, over to you…have you struggled with the “I’ll be happy when…” mentality? What has it looked like for you? What is one step you are going to take to start getting away from it? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below :)