Striving for Contentedness

A challenge that I face is getting a balance between striving/hunger/achieving and content/tranquil/calm. On the one hand, I want to become more, to change and challenge my own status quo. On the other hand, I want to be happy in the moment, feel present and satisfied.

High Achievers

On the Four Hour Workweek Podcast (highly recommended) I heard Tim Ferriss and Brené Brown also discuss this topic. Tim outlined the following:

Although I’m quite happy where I’m at now, I have higher ambitions. I set goals and these are different from where I’m currently at. Therefore I deliberately create a discrepancy between my future and current situation (also called: ideal self and current self). This makes me discontent with my current situation and activates me to challenge myself and move forward. By making my goals and moving forward, I in effect have made myself less content with the current situation.

The questions: Is there a way to be both content with the now and strive for more?

Healthy Striving

Brené answered the question in two parts. The first is that striving should not be there to prevent criticism. Your success should not be outwardly defined. You should strive to build yourself. The second is that you should be present focussed. That means that you should think about the smaller parts of your goals, the actions you can take directly and not only think about what you want to have in the future.

If we were to compare striving and contentment to driving in a car, I would image the following. Your (big) goals are the horizon, the mountains you are driving towards or something else far away. Closer by are birds, trees, buildings and even a red light every once in a while. And although you should enjoy and strive to go to the mountain, don’t forget that you are already driving and can enjoy the ride in the present moment.