Self-actualization lies in the present, not the future
You probably spend a lot of time thinking about a beautiful future that does not yet exist. Don’t worry, I do too. I can’t wait until I become a writer. I can’t wait until I become wealthy. I can’t wait until I get X so that I can get Y.
I try to do that less, though. Not long ago, I realized, that sort of thinking leads to a whole lot of pain and suffering. It ultimately leads to dissatisfaction with what I have, because I am not thinking about the good things that surround me.
Do you catch yourself doing the same? Do you relish the mere thought of self-actualization? Do you find yourself saying, “I can’t wait until I become X”? There is a far better and more fulfilling approach to becoming who you want to be. You have to understand this:
Whatever action you take now will be the same action you take later
Let’s take writing or becoming a writer as an example. This can apply to any profession of choice. As a writer, what do you imagine you’ll be doing if you become a published, successful writer?
Writing. Lots and lots of writing.
Sure, you might have book signings, interviews, and flights to catch, but those things are a product of the writing that you do. If those are the things you are after, or whatever perks come with whatever it is you want to do, you’re missing the point.
It should be writing that is your main priority and passion. Everything that comes from that is secondary. If you are doing it for everything that comes later, you’re doing it for all the wrong reasons. I recommend having a good hard look at why you’re doing what you’re doing.
Think about it. As an “aspiring” writer or a “successful” writer, what is the constant that will never change? The act of writing itself. It doesn’t matter how far you still have to go, the one thing you must do is write — now, and when you achieve success from writing.
The process won’t change
If you want to become the next Stephen King, you need to be doing what he’s doing. Writing a few thousand words per day. When and if you become the future Stephen King, you’ll be doing the exact same thing.
So if you’re not happy, and you’re always “waiting” for success, stop now.
Because getting what you are after, or becoming who you want to be should be a by-product of the act, not a long, painful slog to get something more out of the same task.
The joy is found in taking the actions that lead to self-actualization, not self-actualization itself. Why? Because you’ll be doing them every day. If your work is viewed as a burden on the way to your goal, your days are wasted.
Doing the acts that make you become who you want to be is self-actualization. Sure, the money or exposure that comes later is nice, but it’s meaningless in the work that you have to do to get there.
Waiting for something means abandoning the present moment
If you’re waiting for something better or waiting for success, you’re wasting the very moment you have in the present, wishing for something that does not yet exist.
If you always wish for something that does not exist, you’re not invested in and enjoying the act you must perform to get what you desire.
Let’s say you finally arrive at the moment that you deem “self-actualization.” You’ve worked long, painful hours, always waiting for the day to come. When the day arrives, and you get your book deal or whatever, you’ll be happy.
But what about the next day? Surely you won’t stop writing. One book deal doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be set for life. You’ll have to keep going, and you’ll be back to the grind in no time.
The question is, how do you want to spend the grind? In agony, waiting for the next success? Or enjoying every minute of the action you must take?
Here’s how you become who you want to become immediately: You act and behave like who it is you want to be.
Want to be a writer? Write every day and enjoy it.
Want to be in the NBA? Play basketball every day and enjoy it.
Want to be an entrepreneur? Grow your business every day and enjoy it.
That’s why they say if you write every day, you’re a writer, not an aspiring writer. An aspiring writer is someone who wishes they could write every day.
So stop waiting for success, and start being successful. Become who it is you want to be now, through your actions. I promise you that when you “reach success,” the actions will remain the same. Whether you love them or not is up to you.