Have you ever felt like your feelings of contentment aren’t enough? Worried that you aren’t showing enough gratitude for all that you have? But still feel you should be striving for something more? What if it wasn’t an either-or?
I feel like so much of our culture is viewed as an either-or. Either you’re a Wall Street wolf or humble hippie. A democrat or republican. An athlete or a couch potato. Grateful or unappreciative.
But for many of us, it’s not that simple. We don’t fit into a neat little box.
Balancing life’s opposing forces is a daily struggle for me. I feel like I need to work harder to create the next thing. But at the same time, I feel like I should slow down and enjoy all that I’ve worked for.
Today’s post is something I’ve been pondering for years. I never had the courage to share it though because I thought it was just me. That said, I’m glad I waited because I recently found clarity on the idea that I’m excited to share with you.
Earlier this month, I wrote about the journey my husband, Jeremiah, and I took to create financial freedom. While we were on that journey, a friend asked, “What will you do when you meet your goal?” I said, “I don’t know, but I’m sure there will be the next thing. There’s always the next thing.”
That answer couldn’t have been more spot on. I had no idea what our next goal would be, but I knew there would be something. As long as we’ve been together, Jer and I have been striving for the next thing. While it’s kept life exciting and created hope for the future, it also worried me. A few years earlier, I would have given anything to be where I am today. But as quickly as I arrive, I’m off to the next thing.
I worry that I’m not showing enough gratitude for how far we’ve come. I worry that I’m not enjoying all of the blessings we currently have. And at the same time, I worry that too much gratitude and contentment will make me complacent.
After years of contemplation, I found clarity while talking to Jer on our way home from the gym. I expressed my concern for finding balance between striving and contentment. Then without even thinking, I blurted out, “You know what? I think we need to have the next thing to look forward too. It’s what keeps us excited about the future. It’s what gets us out of bed in the morning. If that wasn’t there, I think it would be the beginning of the end.”
So it turns out, the next thing is a good thing. Freedom and happiness don’t come from complacency, they come from courage and action.
Jer and I always have a series of big, crazy goals that we’re working toward. I can’t imagine what our life would be like without them. Nevertheless, it’s important to balance what you’re working toward with gratitude for all that you have right now.Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough ― @Oprah Click To Tweet
So how do you find contentment?
I believe the answer is different for all of us. That’s why it’s important to understand who you are, what you want, and what you most value in life.
Here are some questions to ask yourself while balancing contentment and striving.
- What are the three to five areas of your life are most important to you?
- When do you feel most at peace with yourself and the world around you?
- What experience over the last year brought you the most joy?
- When was the last time you jumped out of bed in the morning?
- Why do you really want that thing you’re chasing?
- What’s your endgame?
Ask yourself these questions about where you’re at right now as well as where you’re trying to go. If you don’t feel that any of the answers are a good fit, give yourself permission to make adjustments. You are in charge of this adventure. You can turn it in any direction you want.Becoming who we’re capable of being – regardless of other people’s opinions of us – is part of our responsibility both to ourselves and to God. – Marianne Williamson @marwilliamson Click To Tweet