Our society is driven by status, appearance, and achievement. Checking all the boxes in the right order at the right time and climbing to the top in every arena is revered. But what happens when the goal is to be king of every mountain? We certainly can’t stretch that far and I certainly haven’t met someone with that type of breadth. The truth is, that person doesn’t exist. Achievement becomes about ego and power and dominance. The other side of the coin is when we make our lives about checking things off the list, what happens when the lists run out? We essentially run out the clock with meaningless actions for the sake of proving our worth to others.
Conveniently what we don’t talk about is inherent worth. For most of us our worth is still determined by what’s on the outside, what we can show the world we’ve done. We forget about the worth we are born with merely by being here. That worth never disappears but we learn to put it to the side in favor of rules, expectations, other people’s beliefs all before we even learn to express ourselves. For those who know their inherent worth, it’s easier to rise above the games. It’s easier to see alternatives to the story we still try to engrain in this society. When you know, you know—it’s no longer about proving. Proving falls to the background because you are merely doing all you can do with what you have—and that is enough.
To be completely fair, perhaps that conversation on worth is growing more these days, but it isn’t something we have fully integrated into our beings. As someone considered mid-life, I struggle with certain aspects of the younger generation. There’s a dichotomy that feels so big. There are kids who embrace who they are and shout it to the world while others seem stuck in posting and social media and vapid distraction. The truth is we were probably the exact same, it just felt different, or it wasn’t so widely advertised. But one thing to give the younger generation credit for is their persistence and creativity. They stick with what they know and they have this ability to take their talents and find ways to make it off the traditional path. That is a strong sense of self. Those of us on the precipice between the two still struggle between what we are “supposed” to do and what we want to do. We haven’t gotten fully comfortable with making it outside the norm, through our creativity.
There is a time and place for achievement. There is a time to shoot for the top. It can be said that achievement isn’t the problem—alignment is. Because when achievement in itself is the goal we get lost. Or when we are climbing a ladder that isn’t for us. Or when we climb the ladder on the wrong building. Fine it may be an accomplishment to finish something. But what good is it if it doesn’t mean anything to us? What good is it if it wasn’t our goal in the first place? So when we go for a goal, make sure it’s our own because then the path to the top means something. Otherwise we are playing a game of tag that we can’t win because the goal is always moving. It’s kind of like spinning plates on too many sticks at once—we can’t keep them all moving. They are eventually going to fall. When we are aligned, achievement comes naturally. There aren’t plates to spin, we spin with the natural course before us. The ladder is still there, but the goal is different. It isn’t about getting to the top, it’s about following the steps on the journey. That is an achievement well worth it.