What I’m Learning About What I’m Learning

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” ―Ralph Waldo Emerson

It’s not about finishing the song. It’s about being one with the music while it’s still playing.

It’s not about throwing up my hands and saying “I did it.” It’s about becoming the kind of person for whom getting things done is a mere side-effect of a much broader commitment to personal evolution.

It’s not about proving myself. It’s about seeing what comes out of me when I realize I have nothing to prove.

These were the words I offered to my own question as I took a walk yesterday evening and asked myself the following: what’s the true goal of my personal development project (PDP)?

The biggest lesson I learned this week, as I completed the first five days of my PDP, is that I am no longer in the business of merely taking pride in the fact that I showed up and did what I said I would do. A little over three years ago, when I committed to writing a blog post every single day, I felt so accomplished each time I made it happen. This sense of pride existed independently of the quality of my writing. I cherish those days and am deeply grateful for them. I needed to have that attitude as it helped me overcome perfectionism and develop the courage required to create. But now, it’s time to go beyond that. I can no longer be content with treating my routines as a to-do list that I get to feel good about finishing. I’m determined to be the best possible version of myself and that means holding myself to a higher standard. I want to enjoy the bliss of being in my flow state for as many moments as possible. Poets and mystics often speak of finding the extraordinary in the ordinary. All the details of my PDP aside, this is the real aim for me. I’m after what Thomas Moore called “the re-enchantment of everyday life.”

Accomplishments are good. Completing tasks are good. Being consistent is good. But I see all of those things as the natural by-product and logical outworking of one fundamental practice: the conscious, deliberate, passionate, and relentless pursuit of self-actualization. It is my conviction that to fully be one’s self is not only pleasurable, but that’s it’s also practical. So I’ll be here. I’ll be showing up everyday. I’ll do the things I say I’m going to do. But I don’t plan on throwing any parties or making any big announcements when I’m finished because those things aren’t the point. I’m here to enjoy the process of making productivity an afterthought of my personal evolution. That’s what fires me up. That’s what I’m learning about what I’m learning.