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Procrastinating about an ambition may be the key to authentic success!

Posted Mar 14 2014 4:31pm


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At 38 years of age April was divorced with two preteens and a boring job that paid the bills. But she was no nearer realizing her goals of becoming a fashion designer, with boutiques all over the world and the glitterati salivating for her next collection. She kept telling herself that one day she would go to college, get her fine arts degree and then set fire to the world with her brilliant clothes.

Yet something always got in the way – the kids needed her – she was too tired to go to college and bring up her children – it cost too much – it would take too long – she was too old – no one would like her designs – she didn’t want to market her work – she didn’t have the money to invest in a business, and on it went. April was highly skilled in creating obstacles that felt insurmountable just when it seemed that there was no excuse for not following her dream.


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Each new obstacle she conjured up gave her tremendous relief -

Now she had a justifiable reason for not acting on her goals and no longer had to suffer the guilt and shame of being a loser – until the next time she opened a magazine and saw a new designer’s work being hailed as the hottest wear of the year. Suddenly she was filled with envy, finding every reason why the new designer was successful and she was not. The famous designer had this advantage and that – while she didn’t. They were lucky and had sponsors, whereas she was alone and without guidance or backers.

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Sometimes April got scared that time was passing her by and she had to make a start on getting enrolled in a design class at her local community college. Anger at herself for procrastinating and fear that she would regret it if she let this opportunity slip prompted her to take the odd class, but that’s as far as she got. Having appeased the anger and fear she was back at square one. Any stimulation or inspiration she felt while in class dissipated as soon as she got back into her familiar routine.

What made April sabotage her ambitions?

Growing up April heard her mother Nancy talk incessantly about becoming a ceramic artist. Nancy had a small potter’s wheel at home and occasionally made some beautiful pieces to give away as gifts to friends and family. But she never took it up professionally and that annoyed the hell out of April. Hearing about the dreams and ambitions that bore no fruit made April determined to be different. She set out on her adult life to prove that she was not like her mother and make something of herself.

But April chose settling down with her husband and children – just like her mother. She was content until the marriage went south and she was left with the lion’s share of child rearing. She had friends and colleagues with whom she enjoyed a sense of camaraderie and it satisfied her – just like her mother. She enjoyed gardening and having a dog – just like her mother.


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April’s true and false wishes were back-to-front

It was impossible for April to become a fashion designer because her early wish to do so came not from an authentic desire to fulfill her potential, but as a reaction against her mother’s empty talk. So she had to force herself to take steps in that direction, fueled by anger, and fear that she wouldn’t be able to prove that she wasn’t like her mother.

Deep down, April wanted nothing more than to be exactly like her mother in terms of life style. She wanted the family and friends, the garden and the dog to be enough, while still indulging in a few pipe dreams. But shame about her true wish made April feel that she should push herself – tiny steps and regression was the result because it didn’t match her authentic desire – to be like the mother she used to despise for not putting her money where her mouth was.

Accepting her truth makes room for discovering and enjoying life

Hating herself for being like her mother isn’t going to get April anywhere. The harder she fights against being like her mother the more like her mother she is. April can ease her burden by letting herself off the hook. It was the child in her that made the pact to be different. Now as an adult, she can reframe that wish and bring it up to date, in line with her current needs. Then there will be no shame and no envy and no rage or self-castigation – only peace and room to discover what she really wants – then there will be no stopping her!


Take away lesson -

Whenever you are coming from a place of reaction against something – it's a battle and not an authentic part of your developmental trajectory!

Copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.


You might also like:

Four ways to stop fear obstructing your success

How to make that decision that you have been putting off

Uncover the hidden motives that sabotage your success


Disclaimer: this article is for informational and educative purposes only. Dr. Raymond is not responsible for any reactions you may have when reading the content or using the suggestions therein. Interacting with this material does not constitute a therapeutic relationship with Dr. Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.


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