When I wake up tomorrow morning and wander through the still-quiet (please, please still be quiet) house, in the plaid red flannel pajamas, with the tiny claw holes on the shoulder where the cat likes to drape – everything will look the same, but it will all be different.
Later, I will gently wake up my daughter and hug around her soft, tennis-ball sized shoulders as long as she’ll have it. I’ll pour the cereal and remind her no fewer than six times to get her freakin shoes on – just like I do every day. Yes, tomorrow morning will look all the same. But it won’t be.
Because tomorrow the goal that I have held since grade school, will be a completed. Tomorrow, my book Imperfect Spirituality will be released to the world, and I will have accomplished one of my life dreams.
I have grown accustomed to this idea of writing a book. I have lived with the notion of it for probably 35 years. I didn’t know when or exactly how it would happen. I only believed that it would. And I worked hard learning along the way what I’d need to know to do it; what I’d need to know when the time came. I held onto the goal always even when I let other plans go and life shifted and changed. But, tomorrow, for the first time I’ll wake up without it. This goal is done. And the idea of it has transformed into something tangible. Mission Accomplished.
Now what? What do we do when the Big Thing gets crossed off? How do we handle the idea left behind when we decide to give it up and pursue something that now seems more meaningful?
For many people, no longer having a goal to push toward feels unsettling. Who are we without a target in site? It’s not uncommon for people to fall into a depression or despair when they’ve finished off the big thing they’ve pursued for ages. I have met others who were disappointed even once they’d accomplished their goal, because the result didn’t live up to their imagined outcome.
I don’t think I’ll feel any of that. Though, of course, I’ll keep you posted. I’ve got other things to try, now. More fish to fry. Other things I want to learn about and explore and I’m thinking about the next book too. I’ll be traveling a bit too to talk about this idea of practical spirituality.
So, while I’ve accomplished this one thing, there are a few others I’d like to try.
Finding what’s next
Knowing that makes me feel better. It’s essential that we have a next move particularly when we are in a place of completion or transition in life. Knowing how to accept the outcome we’ve been given and move on into the next moment gracefully will determine how we feel about our experience and how we use our energy.
Life can become narrow when we cross something off our life list. Or, it can be expansive and growth-oriented even when something ends. That’s what I’m going for.
If you are on the verge of completing a major life goal – you’ve raised the kid to adulthood, you’ve sold your business, run the marathon, launched the product, made the money, set up the non-profit, healed yourself and your body – if you have decided to shift from one idea that has guided your life, to another that seems more satisfying right now, knowing how to release one thing to go after another will determine how much fun you have going forward.
The transition can be a smooth one.
Here are 3 some ways to do it:
Treasure what you know now. Whether or not you’ve accomplished the thing you set out to do the time spent working toward it has yielded insights and information. That wisdom will travel with you anywhere. The process is not wasted even if the outcome isn’t what you expected. Spend time appreciating what you know now rather than lamenting what you’re leaving. Then, use that knowledge to prepare for the next quest.
Celebrate the end and the beginning. No matter what it is you are leaving behind, acknowledge the move. Be mindful of what you’ve done, and the experience along the way. Don’t judge the process. Give thanks for the experience, the people you’ve met, the things you’ve learned. Celebrate what you’ve done. Even if the outcome isn’t what you wanted, or you are moving on without having achieved the goal, acknowledge that releasing it makes space for something bigger and grander to move in. It will. It’s the nature of the universe, we are expansive and fluid and when we shift our energy from one direction to another we gain momentum. Celebrate the end and get psyched up for the beginning of the next thing.
Make the next move. Then, find that next thing. I’ve already got another book in the works, been thinking about it for months. At the same time, I’m throwing all my energy behind the book tour for this one. I didn’t want to end up here in this pace with nothing to do. I like to have something to create and think about and focus on. As you wind up your pursuit of one thing, begin mulling over another. Once the kid is in college, for example, start planning the empty-nest cruise. Maybe it’s time to pick up your art supplies again, or volunteer at a school, or find something else that moves you. Once the business is up and running, start thinking about the next innovative product or system to boost its success. The point is, to put your energy toward the next thing that feels interesting and exciting and you will move into a place of possibility.
In this way any ending can always be a new beginning.
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