What do you do when you really, really want something? Do you sit alone and think about having it while doing nothing? Maybe you’re smart enough to write it down and set a goal to achieve it. Maybe you’ll even take the steps necessary to bring that something into reality. What happens when you get it?
If you’re like most people, you’ll feel happy for a brief moment, elated with your victory. Shortly after you will either find a new challenge or grow bored, resting on your laurels of past achievement. When you get this new challenge you find yourself excited and you pursue the cycle again, to get the things you really want.
But that is just a convenient lie you have told yourself, isn’t it? You never really wanted the things in the first place. You wanted the happiness, the emotion, the fulfillment associated with it. You made the assumption that getting those things would bring you the happiness.
Unfortunately any happiness gathered by achievement is generally short-lived. Your brain gives you a dose of pleasure to reinforce your behavior and you set off again like an addict waiting for his or her next fix. You can continue this cycle, growing and improving, getting bigger and bigger rewards and feeling that short pulse of happiness each time.
Fulfilling Desires Leaving You Unfulfilled?
The cycle of goal-setting and achievement is far above the level most people live their lives. Most people live in a zone where desires are unfulfilled and they traverse their universe mixed with frustration, boredom and a stagnant level of improvement. Transcending this pattern with goal-setting and actively fulfilling your desires is definitely a positive step.
But is it enough?
Eventually when the cycle continues to repeat itself, your conscious mind begins to grow tired of the never-ending quest for more and better. Achieving goals is great but there is a slight ache of emptiness with each one you achieve. You have reached a point where motivation becomes difficult and where the more desires you try to fulfill the more unfulfilled you feel inside.
At every point in your life there will be threshold moments. While you are experiencing them, you will likely experience tremendous pain, frustration and possibly depression. These moments are turning points where you can either transcend to another level or fall into a permanent state of despair.
Moving from a level of weakness to strength is the first such hurdle. Going from frustrated sulking over your life and actively changing it is an incredible hurdle to cross. Looking back at my own life I can see that the period of crossing this hurdle was immensely painful, but the reward of personal power that comes at the end was worth it.
Once you discover that internal power to fulfill your desires, ambitions and needs you tackle goal after goal, sculpting your life the way you see fit. Unfortunately, with each goal you succeed and each change you make, it becomes less and less fulfilling each time. You are approaching the next threshold in your life and it will be an even more difficult one to cross.
However, before you can understand what this threshold is and what the other side looks like, you need to understand why it occurs in the first place.
Filling the Emptiness
The problem that ambitious, consciously evolved people eventually face results from the fact that their own desires and needs are consuming them. Sometimes they will achieve their goals other times they won’t, but in the end there is still the frustrated sense that something is still missing. The more goals they set, the worse the feeling gets.
At this point many people might turn back on goal-setting, personal power or growth entirely. Blaming their problems on the drive to improve, they attempt to numb their ambitions with spirituality, religion or relationships. But still it doesn’t work, frustrated even more it becomes hard to determine what the problem really is.
The problem is the emptiness itself. Trying to fill the hole they feel exists in their life with something outside it continues to fail. Frantically trying to feel reassured, they simply create more and more emptiness. The hole gets larger and they approach the threshold.
Crossing the Threshold
The real issue is that the sense of emptiness itself is an illusion. You are and always were whole. You may have needs for your survival, emotions and comfort, but these are just to ensure your future. You can’t fill the hole you see because it doesn’t exist. The feeling of emptiness never came from a lack of something, but rather the realization that pursuing desire after desire, goal after goal, was meaningless to you. You are complete.
At first this is a very hard realization to accept. I know I struggled with this realization continuously in my own life. Even when I had accepted it consciously it took up until just recently that I actually felt it. The hole that I so desperately had sought to fill was merely an illusion keeping me from crossing the next threshold.
What exists on the other side of the threshold?
The answer is purpose, contribution and a focus centered outside yourself. When your energies are focused on constant improvement of yourself to its own end, this creates the negative hole you experience. Your own focus and efforts to fill the hole create it. The more empty goals you set and ultimately selfish desires you want fulfilled the worse it gets.
In Pursuit of Purpose
I think the term purpose gets thrown around a little too much by people who aren’t using it correctly. When describing purpose, most people are really just describing a greater context for fulfilling their own desires. When they say they want to help other people, this is generally just another egotistical goal to fulfill their need for status and importance.
On the Steve Pavlina forum I found a perfect example of exactly this phenomena. A forum member was frustrated with lack of traffic being driven to his website. Steve responded basically by asking whether he was focused more on the idea of creating more traffic or more focused on genuinely helping the people who were already visiting his website. I’m loosely paraphrasing, but basically he said that if he focused his effort on helping the people there rather than on his own desire for website traffic he would have more traffic then he knows what to do with.
The difference is that for some people helping others is a consequence to fulfill their own desires. They want to feel important, moral, or be wealthy and to do this they help other people. Those people that actually have crossed the threshold, pursue their goals from the mindset that they are complete already so feeling important, moral or being wealthy are merely side-effects from trying to help others to their maximum capacity.
Purpose isn’t about some ethical obligation to help others. It comes from the very core belief that you are already complete and that all your future efforts for growth are now focused outside of yourself. The result of this belief and action is that you no longer experience the side effect of inadequacy, negativity or emptiness from trying to fill a hole you feel in your life.
Self-Improvement in the Pursuit of Purpose
What does this mean about your needs, your desires and your wants? Does this mean crossing the threshold means becoming purely altruistic and abandoning your own needs? The answer to these questions is a straightforward no.
In order to best help other people and the world you need to be the most effective you can possibly be. The only difference is that instead of pursuing growth simply to make up for your own internal weakness it is used to magnify your inner strength.
The truth is that it will probably be a lot easier to pursue goals with success from this mindset than the one you used in your past. You probably have reached a point in your own personal success where you questioned whether you really needed to improve beyond a certain point. You told yourself you don’t need that much money, that great of relationships or personal effectiveness.
When you flip this attitude outside of your own needs and onto the needs of everyone it becomes much easier to see how your ultimate growth potential is unlimited. There no longer is a cap that you figure is a reasonable amount of success to fulfill yourself. Every step forward becomes another step towards your own growth.
Cognitive Understanding Versus Complete Knowledge
Crossing this threshold has been a recent event in myself. Although I’ve been reading material that emphasized points very similar to mine, I was still stuck in the area of pursuit of self. I understood cognitively that focusing on a purpose and giving my actions a greater meaning was important, but I didn’t have complete knowledge.
Unfortunately there are no magic words I can utter nor are there any rituals you can take to cross this threshold yourself, if you haven’t already. But understanding is a first step. When you begin to encounter difficulty in motivation for your own goals, you know you are approaching a threshold you now know how to cross.
It is also very easy to fall into the trap of assuming you’ve crossed thresholds you haven’t. Looking back in my own life before I really got into the idea of self-improvement you could have asked me questions like, “Do you believe you have the power to change and control your life?” And I would have given an affirmative yes. Several months ago you could have asked me, “Do you pursue your goals through a sense of purpose or a sense of self?” I would have also answered yes.
The real way to test whether you’ve crossed a threshold isn’t how you would answer those questions, but how you act. You can tell a person hasn’t crossed the first threshold if he takes no action to improve their life, never records and commits himself to pursuing his desires and indulges in excessive self-pity. Similarly you can tell a person hasn’t crossed the second threshold if she feels insecure, arrogant or focuses more of her mind upon how to benefit herself rather than benefitting others.
I never want to sound superior to you in any way. Everything I write here is the result of my own past and recent challenges I found a way to overcome. Fully realizing this pursuit of purpose in myself has been such a recent event that I won’t even know for certain whether I have crossed the threshold for months or years from now.
If you still think you are trapped either in the stage of weakness or even the stage of strength instead of the stage of purpose, don’t worry. There are no quick fixes and things might have to get worse before getting better. When you first realize that you have the power to grow and finally when you realize you are whole then you can truly get what you want.