Resolve to Achieve Nothing. Be Everything.
Many times in my life, I have found just how shallow my achievements are. From the days when I would receive a near-constant stream of accolades for being the top performer on my team to the multimillion-dollar sale of the company I built, none fulfilled me.
I was asked so many times, “Aaron, why aren’t you enjoying the moment… having fun and reveling in your achievement?” Often this was at a party or moment in time when others were celebrating my success. For me, I didn’t have a great answer. And the truth was, I was already halfway down the path to the next thing I wanted to achieve. And so the past success wasn’t all that interesting. I was already building the next company or focused/stressed about hitting the next milestone of “greatness.”
Hollow, empty and nothing special were the feelings that arose as I spent the time to dig deeper into my “self,” and inquire, “what the hell is going on here?!”
The concept of “non-achievement” is near heresy in the modern day world. Especially for all us high achievers. The leaders, the top performers, the entrepreneurs building great businesses, we must set goals – and lofty ones at that. Even those of us on a quest for self-improvement come to a place where we seek to achieve a better self. But as life wears on, we find ourselves asking “what is it we are trying to achieve?’ or better yet, “why?”
As we start to peel back the layers of what it is we really want, it becomes easy to see the superficiality or societal created desires for what they really are. And easier to see their reasons for “why”: The accolade of recognition, or the self-congratulations of “I did it.” Or for some, the self-convincing of “finding our life’s work.” All of these I have learned to caution greatly, as these things are only elusive temporary goals, like moving to a new city or changing jobs to create a “fresh start.” All are void of answers to what is it that matters most, only an external element of life. Not the answers to it.
So what is it that matters most? As we dig, the answer most commonly heard is “I want to be happy.” And to that, there can be no debate. But what is happiness?
Is it that momentary feeling of going on an amazing vacation? Is it that feeling of having achieved more than 99% of the world? Is it that you’ve made it in this world? Or more specifically, as we set our goals for the year ahead, is it “that feeling of accomplishment” when you achieve what you set out to do?
No, it’s not. And we already knew that.
Then what? What is it?
Being first. Then happy. “Being happy” would be akin to that inner contented feeling… that warmth of joy. Being in the flow, as some would say, and feeling the amazing power of energy when in the alignment of that flow through the greater river of life.
Not the “I” that screams from the mountain tops (or posts on Facebook), “look at me, I did something special or my life is amazing,” or “I am so grateful for this.” Rather the gratefulness is expressed in “Grace” itself, and an inner place of self-content. So we come back to the grace of just getting to “Be.”
As we search for “Being” or inner-true self, we tend to fall back into old habits of achievement. I am meditating every day (cue triumphant music in the background)! I am becoming a better person. I am improving myself. I am changing.
Yet, paradoxically, this striving itself is a bit of a no-no. Additionally, the goal to change, is not quite right. In our self-help society, we are made to believe that change, incrementally creeping up a certain ladder of betterment, is the way. Like self-improvement exercises of vision boarding, actualization or power of positive thinking, even these powerful manifestations are only temporary respites of achievement. They do not last. Nor are they really “being.”
To Be is to find stillness. To be grounded. To dig for self where all answers dwell. And to do so, we must dig in this stillness of non-achievement with no objective other than just being.
To dig deep, we must dig in one spot. Any spot, but one spot with concentration, repetition and awareness. We mustn’t move from here to there. Get from one phase of mindfulness to the next. Simply dig. Mundanely. Assuredly. Without desire. Without expectation of greatness, knowing that all we seek we already have.
All that we want to “be” is already there. We just need to find it and come back to it. Bring it to the surface, from under all the layers we have added during our lifetimes.
The endless joy and happiness we all seek are in one place only, deep below the surface. And found only with the shovel of no-effort, no achievement. Or as many in the Zen tradition would say, “nothing special” is the only tool that allows for reaching that destination. Letting go of any preconceived notion, hope or expectation. Just simply letting go and sitting. Our sitting, being the dig.
Simple everyday digging is needed to tap into self and the full energy that allows us to be. When we accept that there is nothing to achieve we actually have found a place that lets the “ego-I” melt away and allows the true self to reveal itself – the one that knows the path to happiness.
“This is the path of the one. Where the path of the one must end and return to the source,” said the Oracle (Matrix).
So as you set out on your quest to achieve, or create a resolution, remember the final answer to the big question is one that has no beginning or end. And most certainly is not “achievable.”