So you think you know what you want: But are you sure?
When I was much younger and pondering having children as a life’s path, my girlfriend who had children said, “You should only have kids if you can’t live without having kids—it requires that much commitment.” When I really thought about it, I began to realize that while I had all the proper maternal instincts, the pressure to be a mom was more of a cultural society thing than my own real goal. I could live without making that choice. Ever since, I chose to “birth books and borrow babies” instead.
Marriage and long-term relationships require that much commitment too, and yet we often make the decision not because we really want the relationship we are in or the person we are with, but because we want the fantasy dream of a long-term loving relationship with someone.
When you really look at the source of your goals and desires, you will often discover that you are operating from peer pressure, social norms, and expectations or the desire to create a certain image, more than you actually want the goal. When a goal is generated by ego—the need to get approval from others or the need to control others, you may still achieve the goal (having kids, getting married, starting your own business, etc.), but you may well find that it is a struggle every step of the way.
A woman once told me that she was upset because none of the guys she had dated wanted to marry her. So I simply asked, “If they had, were there any of them that you would have said ‘yes’ to?” She replied, “Oh no, none of them were the right choice for me!” Her ego wanted these men to want her. Social training told her that the men she dated should want to marry her, but she wasn’t trained to stop and ask herself what she really wanted. Truth be told, she didn’t want to marry them, either; that recognition allowed her to move into appreciation rather than resentment. If one had asked her to marry him, her fairy tale desire to say yes would have kicked in and a very big decision may have been made for all the wrong reasons.
A young woman friend of mine who is in the dating stage of life recently confided in me that all of her friends are getting married and having kids and she realized that watching them was pushing her “It is time for me to get married and have kids” buttons. When she really stopped to examine whether that was truly what she wanted at this stage of her life she realized it was not—nor had she met the right guy yet. My guess is that one of the reasons that one out of two marriages end in divorce is because we don’t take the time to make sure we are marrying the right person for the right reasons at the right time. Once we do make that choice, we often don’t make sure that we have the skills and capacity for transcending our ego (judgment, jealousy, possessiveness, the need for approval, and the need to be right) so that we are capable of being compassionate and loving.
The same holds true for any major decision—starting a business, taking on a new job, going to school for a higher degree, moving to a new place. Whenever you discover a desire or a goal, take the time to analyze whether this is something you really want, something that will really make you happy or will serve you over time. Ask yourself if your commitment is so great that you can’t live with the decision not to do that thing. If you know it is what you really want to do or that this step will bring you what you really want, then go for it, fully committed to learn what you need to know to make give it a good chance of success. Go forth knowing that this decision is your choice.
Love Tip of the Week: What do you want—and why?
Love Tip of the Week: As you launch into a commitment, define “success.” A successful relationship may not be one that lasts, but rather one from which you learn and grow.