"Nothing you get will ever make you happy. Nothing. It doesn't matter how many people respect you, how much money you have, how many things you have...But, who you become will make you very happy or very sad."
~ Tony Robbins
In our competitive dance world especially, we can get so fixed on accomplishing goals. You have no qualms about working your a$$ off to get that contract with your dream company, earn that soloist role, or perfect those 32 fouettés. But, then what? What happens when that void hits you after the initial rush and excitement of success fades away? You got everything you were diligently focusing on and working for...so, why do you feel so empty?
You quickly pick another goal to throw yourself into. That obviously wasn't enough. You need to do more, earn more, be more. You move from one accomplishment to the next in your pursuit of fulfillment and happiness in life. Your thoughts go something like this:
One of these days, I will get my big break where I will finally feel like I am enough. Then, I will be able to rest. Then, I will be happy with my life and what I've accomplished. Then, I will have earned my self-worth.
But, it doesn't work this way. No amount of achievements, recognition, or success will ever be enough. There will always be a gaping void to fill if you have this mindset. And, you'll attempt to fill that void with work, or food, or alcohol, or exercise, or clothes, or shoes... But, nothing you "get" will ever satisfy you.
Achievements are fleeting. Even if it's something that you worked really hard for and rightfully earned, the satisfaction and fulfillment won't last. You'll get excited about your achievement for a few moments...but then that excitement will eventually fade away, and you'll crave more. All the accomplishments and success in the world will never fill your self-worth.
That's because it's not about the achievements themselves - it's about the process that leads you to those achievements. The key to your self-worth, to finding happiness and fulfillment in who you are, is growth. It's in getting a little better each & every day. It's in optimizing your potential as a human being, being resourceful, and not throwing away your time on this planet. It's in doing the things that allow you to become a better version of yourself.
And so, each day, you take a step or two in that direction, on your path towards self-mastery. Sometimes they will be baby steps, where you barely nudge yourself forward or even just prevent yourself from sliding backwards. Sometimes they will be giant leaps into new dimensions. And, sometimes they will feel like frantic, desperate attempts to cling to the vertical edge of a cliff with a white-knuckle-grip, struggling not to fall into the abyss. The progress you make doesn't matter. The appreciation and fulfillment lies in the process - in doing the work, mentally and physically, every single day to move yourself forward.
Then, it doesn't matter what the outcome is:
You can get the lead role; or not.
You can get the company contract; or not.
You can be at your goal weight; or not.
You can own the house with the white picket fence and sports car parked out front; or not.
You can have the perfect husband, 2.5 kids, and dog; or not.
You can be happy with yourself no matter what...because you are on your path. You don't need the validation or recognition. You don't need the plaque on the wall or the gold medal. You're not dependent on what other people think or how the chips fall; the power is all yours to create a better version of yourself. In other words, you are 100% in control of your life. There's power in that. There's fulfillment in that.
That process, doing the work every single day to become a better human being, is what gives you your self-worth...not your achievements. The sooner you make peace with that, the sooner you really get to start enjoying life. (I still struggle with it sometimes;)
"If you're not growing, you're dying."
~ Tony Robbins
Photo credit: Steve Vaccariello