JKLTip Think of your goal and ask what are you most scared to do that you think will help advance it. Now go do that
Have you ever read the paper bag princess by Robert Munsch? It was a book I liked as a child and yesterday my daughter brought it home from school. Reading it to her last night I was quickly reminded of how children’s books are often all we need if we look for meaning.
If you want to go check it out please do, but here’s a quick summary. The princess gets clothes burned off by a dragon who steals her soon to be husband. Princess goes to great lengths to find the dragon wearing a paper bag for a dress. Princess rescues the boy. The boy is ungrateful as his only focus is on how she’s not dressed like a princess. Princess realizes she’s better off alone anyhow.
While reading I was reminded of this concept of slaying dragons. It reminded me of a quote by Carl Jung, “that which you most need will be found where you least want to look.” It’s such a great reminder to search for answers to our questions that bring us the greatest fear. I often write about my approaches seeming counterintuitive, but when you try them you’ll start to create the momentum you previously only dreamed about. I think this quote, this belief in searching the unknown is the reason.
So often in literature, it’s this adventure to the unknown. This setting out to the scariest of places, or confronting the most anxiety-provoking events that unlock the great triumph.
So how do you put this into a practical, more pragmatic practice to help us find more meaning?
One method is really quite simple, slowly remove the safe, cozy approaches that you know aren’t helping you make gains. At the same time slowly add some riskier, less well-known practices to your life. In short, put yourself in more vulnerable learning situations. Put more pressure on yourself to try things. Make sure you genuinely feel uncomfortable going there and push through. The more you do that the more you will find.
A second method is possible but is a little more intentional. Use some solitude time to focus on reflection about where you are and where you want to go. Either go for a walk in a forest, play a golf round alone, or do some meditation. While alone, spend some time thinking about the problems you face to get to your goals.
Ask yourself what’s getting in the way of your dreams? And then the difficult part. Be honest with yourself in asking, where do you least want to go, what could you do that scares you the most, which you think would help you get there?
Now, go there and go do that. You’ll find a lot of meaning.
The paper bag princess adds a layer, because once you accomplish the goal you may just change your mind and move on to the next goal anyways. And that’s ok.