We know that we should be following our hearts.
We know what we’re passionate about and what we would love to do. But we’re not doing it.
Well, because from an early age, we are taught that our value is based on what we achieve—our grades, whether or not we make the soccer team, or how quickly we get asked out for the school dance.
We are taught that we are only worthy if and when we win. We begin to think that the love we can receive is proportional to how much we can accomplish. (I call it “the achievement trap.”) We begin creating goals for ourselves, not based on our real dreams, but on what we think will make us lovable. And then we stress out about those goals, thinking that if we fail, we become unloved.
This is when we silence our hearts.
We begin focusing so much on these inauthentic goals that we forget about our real dreams.
So once we find ourselves on the path toward creating our life’s work, we get nervous, we get scared, and we want to try to avoid it all costs.
We are well-practiced at getting social validation. It’s a simple formula: achieve and numb, achieve and numb. You know how it goes—show up to work early in the morning, stay late, and then go get drunk every weekend.
So what about following our hearts?
Whoa! That’s when it hits us—-we’ve never really been taught how to do that.
We’ve been wanting to launch that business, travel the world, move to Hollywood, or apply for that Ph.D. program, but we just aren’t sure. It freaks us out!
So how do we take action?
The first thing is to see past the myth of “Follow your heart!”
Don’t you kind of hate when some overly chipper person says that to you? We think to ourselves: Yeah okay—let me just do that! I’ll leave my cushy job, go totally broke, and look like an idiot in front of everyone!
Well, I hate to break it to you, but actually…that’s kind of the point. Following your heart is supposed to be confronting!
It’s supposed to make you freak out over quitting your job, looking stupid, and having to disappoint your family.
That’s where the growth is.
Following our hearts is like doing an inner work obstacle course. It’s like a transformational workout—our heart is the best personal trainer ever. It knows exactly what we need to do in order to get stronger.
Listening to our heart requires continually letting going of our ego need for validation.
This is the hero’s journey. Part of that path is feeling lost. Alone. Scared. Rejected. Like a failure. Confused.
So listen up, dreamers: If you are telling yourself that you shouldn’t get too excited about a dream, a vision, a passion, or a goal because it might not work out, then you’re missing the entire point!
The point of a soul goal is not to achieve it—it’s about the way it makes you feel the moment that you commit to it. The way that it lights you up and inspires you and infuses you with passion and vitality. It is the way it alters your experience of life and your experience of yourself.
The goal isn’t only fulfilled if and when you cross the finish line, take home the check, or get published. It is fulfilled in every moment that you let your actions be influenced by inspiration, by what you really want.
The point of soul goals is not so that we can acquire things, like money, fame, validation, popularity, or success. The goal is just an excuse to go on a sacred, inward journey of trusting ourselves, following our hearts, learning to deserve doing what we love, and accepting ourselves after failure and rejection.
So let yourself get excited.
Let yourself feel how badly you want it.
Feel the fear of it not working out.
Don’t deaden the fullness of your heart’s desire. It doesn’t matter if it works out or not—the only thing that matters is that you trust your heart and go for it.
When you realize that who you are is not truly affected by fear, doubt, insecurity, or uncertainty, you have a choice. You can keep going down the road you’ve been on, or you can change. You can face those things head on rather than avoiding them.
The power is in your hands.
On the hero’s journey, there are many points where you may want to turn back. In fact, it would make sense if you gave up on your dreams here and just quit. But that’s not you—your heart is telling you something much different. So don’t choose to follow your heart, thinking it’s going to be all rainbows and butterflies.
It’s going to be really freaking hard.
But it’s like lifting weights—if it’s not hard, then you’re not getting stronger.
So buckle up. It’s gonna be a very bumpy, well-worth it ride.
Author: Brandilyn Tebo
Image: Holly Lay/Flickr
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Copy Editor: Callie Rushton
Social Editor: Sara Kärpänen