Illusion Of Control
March 27, 2020
From when all of us were children, it is ingrained in us that we should have ambitious goals, we should work hard, and we will get the results we deserve. Most times, we get the results, and this reinforces the fact that this approach works.
Unfortunately sometimes we don’t get the results we believe we deserve for all the hard work we have put in. We feel deeply attached to the result, and however hard we may try, it gets elusive.
When we have put in so much work to a point where we get attached to the results, we start experiencing discontent.
How can we avoid this predicament?
We live our lives wanting to be in control. We want to be in control of the goals and the results we desire.
So I set up goals. X amount of Bank Balance by age 45, promotion in the next two years, buy my dream house by the time I am 30 years . I have action plans laid out to achieve whatever goals I may have. Most times I succeed. I also see others, friends, family, peer groups doing the same thing, and they also seem to be thriving taking the same approach.
Slowly, I start deluding myself that “I have control.”
Unfortunately, sooner than later, I start experiencing failures and this illusion of control that I have created for myself breaks down. The higher the sense of control I believe I have, the more dissatisfaction and stress the failures create in me.
The reality is that I never had any control, and I will never have any control over any outcome.
Detachment is the process of accepting that you have no control over the outcome.
Goals are very important to set the direction for what you want to achieve in life. We should be careful not to confuse goals as an absolute destination. Goals are just milestones in the journey of life.
Therefore, we should not to put too much emotional energy in the attainment of the goals. Instead, we should pour all our energy into whatever it is we can do to achieve the goals. We should get adept at focusing on the process, not the goals.
Someone wisely said, ” In the quest for the peak, don’t forget the integrity of the journey.”
Imagine you set yourself a goal to scale a mountain. If and when you get to the peak, you would not spend more than 5 or 10 min there. But to experience that 5 min at the top, you spent months in preparation- building body strength, improving stamina, planning the ascent, organizing logistics, developing climbing skills.
Despite putting in months of intense preparation, whether you scale the peak or not is not in your control. The elements may not favor; there could be unforeseen glitches, accidents. As the mountain climber, be prepared for the possibility of not succeeding in scaling the peak.
If you succeed in scaling the peak, celebrate the effort you put in, and have gratitude that you were able to achieve your goal. The universe supported your endeavor. If you fail in your attempt, be thrilled that you have become a mountaineer and there is always an next time.
When you pay attention to the journey, you will realize that you have grown as a person in your quest for the peak. That is the real essence of detachment. The effort in the hunt for the goal makes you a better version of yourself. The result is just incidental.