Life, on the whole, is overwhelmingly confusing. We are born into this world with no map to guide us. In our younger years we are given direction by our parents or guardians. They might tell us how to think, where to go and what to do. However, there comes a certain point when you suddenly realise that what you thought you knew is nothing more than an opinion. Most likely you have been ingrained with the norms and values of society. Some of which may help you, some not so much. But where do you go from here? You are now free to think for yourself. And while this is freeing, it is also frightening. After all every thought and action has a consequence. What you do from this point on will not only affect you but the people around you.
Maybe you should live in the pursuit of wealth. It makes sense right? Having an abundance of cash will not only give you the means to live comfortably but hopefully it will also allow your future self to have the financial freedom to do exactly what it is they want to do.
But, then again, do you want to spend such a large proportion of your life going after a fabricated reality? At the end of the day, as helpful as finances can be, they are just numbers on a screen. What if, instead, you spend your life doing something real, something with impact. You could help people, teach or work on protecting the environment. Although, what if you regret taking this route? It might be too late to back out once you’ve started. Life as we know it isn’t free and you surely need to make sure that you are stable, healthy and fulfilled before you can do the same for others. Going after money could be the best route after all. Once you’ve gained enough you could invest in charity and good causes.
There’s another factor at play though. Money is temporary and fabricated, it can come and it can go. Helping others is might be the right thing to do but are you really making a difference? Is what you’re doing going to inspire permanent change? Will it last? Will it be remembered? There’s a lot of unjustness in the world. How are you really going to be able to counter that? You’re just one person after all.
So what is worth spending your limited time on? Maybe you should look at the bigger picture. You could work towards one solution that you know would shake things up. That would change the world. It would go down in history and your signature would be left upon this earth. Is that what you should aim for? I don’t know.
I have raised quite a few questions here.
And just like everybody else, I don’t have any answers. As I said, life is confusing.
But I want to briefly discuss one way of looking at things. Maybe it will help you answer some of your own questions. Maybe not.
I have recently finished reading the book Mastery by George Leonard in which he writes about the prospect of long term fulfilment and how to achieve it. How does George suggest that this is achieved? Well as the book title suggests, through mastery.
He describes mastery as the “goalless process” of improving in a particular area of your life. Most commonly the process of mastery can be seen in the dedicated improvement of a skill or discipline, such as a sport, but it could be applied to anything from washing dishes to raising a family.
The most interesting about mastery in the terms in which George Leonard describes it, is the goalless aspect.
You do not begin the process of mastery to actually master anything. There is no end goal. No medal. No victory dance. Instead, you undertake mastery to simply walk the path of mastery. You do it for the journey itself, a journey that will never end.
So, how can you apply this idea to your own life and what would it mean for you?
Well, first off, you need to make a decision on what path of mastery you want to walk. Remember, that what you choose needs to be something that can sustain your drive to push past the obstacles that will undoubtedly be thrown in your way as you gradually improve. The path is rocky. To do this you need to pick the something that you love to do. You can’t just love it for the future benefits it may offer or the rewards it may bring. These are irrelevant. They may come or not. It doesn’t matter because you need to truly love the process. Or at least, be able to learn to love the process. To find enjoyment in the small things that may not seem so obvious at the start of your journey.
The idea is that. In the end. If you can do this. If you can find true joy in the process for as long as your life allows you to. Then, you will improve in unimaginable ways. And more importantly you will have lifelong fulfillment. Regardless of the outcomes.
The other choices you could have made won’t matter anymore. Wealth, service, change, all of these are possible though a path of mastery. But you may just find that the confusion you once felt doesn’t seem as relevant anymore.
Remember, don’t let your actions be guided by the outside in but the inside out.
Want to find out more? You can get your own copy of Mastery here on Amazon.