What Happens When You Give up Goals in the Expansion Phase of Phase 2?

Here follows a preview of what happens in the expansion Phase.

Goals are the bane of my existence.

I believed they gave me my power, what with my abililty to think long term, to plan, and to bring to fruition the kind of life I’ve always wanted. But they are also the sharpest of all double edged swords. Not achieving goals is a feeling akin to heartbreak. The longing feeling of great emptiness, of living a life unfinished. Of not achieving all that I can be.

And I was raised in a world where goals were everything.

I was raised in a world where the worth you have is the direct corrolation of what you have done. Not what you have – as in TVs, cars, houses, and all other manner of shiny objects, because that only serves as a trophy for what you’ve done. The great paycheck that paid for all those things is the reward for what you do.

As Batman himself says, “it’s not who I am, but what I do that defines me.”

This is the game I came here to play. The game that won’t allow me to quit because at heart I don’t want to quit. Yet failing the game is an all too scary idea. Sitting at the edge of a great void, thinking of what could have been. The world is the greatest sandbox game – an infinitely more varied and immersive experience than Grand Theft Auto.

And the game you came here to play is the game of goals. Goals then, not suffering, hold the real power. For suffering, like the trophy that goals give, is just a byproduct – this time of “losing.” Yet both are illusions, just as the game, the goal, and the player are illusions.

I find myself torn between this understanding and the constant pull of the dream world of goals, success, and “making something of myself.” This hides my next big expansion. Because this is simply the zen koan of the goose and the bottle all over again.

It’s quite simple. You have two options. Do you pursue your goals and the inherent drudgery that comes with it or do you abandon them and leave all of life to chaos?

Option #1

Do you pursue your goals, and play the game you set forth even if it brings great resistance?

Think about that book you always wanted to write. But that  book you always wanted to write has you getting up at 5am every day. Do you really want to get up at 5am every day to write the book? Was the idea of writing the book what gave you pleasure? If so, is writing a book what you really want to do? Well you think, “I don’t want to work at Starbucks anymore” (starbucks here is a surrogate for any do-shit-you-dont -want-to-do-for-money job. Is fear of working at Starbucks forever really a good enough motivator for getting up at 5am EVERY DAY for years to work on this amazing book your want to write that two weeks in you lose all interest for anyway?

Maybe you just wan’t to deal with your issues surrounding a topic, and writing is great for that. Maybe you just want to write half the book and call it done.  Maybe you don’t want to write at all, but you’re just fucking unhappy and blogging on a beach in the Bahamas is a glamorous escapist fantasy.

The point is, you have to write. But you don’t necessarily want to. Writing here is a surrogate for any do-what-you-love-in-a-systematic-enough-way-to-make-a-career-out-of-it diversion. Maybe you want to play video games for a living, maybe write music,  maybe garden, maybe read to children.

But here’s the point. Because you signed on the dotted line to live in Phase 1, you will both write and work at Starbucks. Because this is one of the greatest games ever played.

Its deceptively simple. Do what you want. Do what you love. Build it and they will come. But here’s where it gets infinitely complex. Do you really know what you want? Does what you love stay consistent enough to just do it? Build “what” exactly and who will come? And why do you want them coming in the first place?

This option was meant to hold resistance. Because at heart, you don’t want to break the bottle.

Your creativity is your spark – it is your very creative manifestations of your expanded self encapsulated into a thing. And yet in trying to encapsulate it in any one pursuit – in taking the infinite and making it finite, you destroy it. It’s delicate. Creation for me is liking giving myself to something. If I were a woman, I suppose it would be like losing my virginity.

So I really want my naked and taken self to be the source of my money, my happiness, and the achievement of these elusive “goals”? Do I really want my pure expressed self to be what satisfies the goals of the masses?Do I want the private made public? Do I want to, as they say, sell out?

So then, the great game of d0-what-you-love includes the game of do-what-you-don’t-want-to-do or more accurately, do-what-you-believe-you-don’t-want-to-do. The win condition for this game is the rewarding feeling of accomplishing and the social reward of accomplishing. I absolutely love it when people comment on this blog, for instance.

The lose condition, though, is feeling like an absolute failure.

Option #2

So you play the game, because you must, and somewhere along the way you run into a great tactic to make the game eaiser for you – the prospect of stopping playing the game altogether.

That is – abandoning goals, not caring if you win or lose, or redefining success to be what you already have. This too, is deceptive, because it seems easy. But it’s not, because that’s not the way it was designed to be. To truly abandon your real goals you would have to be someone else, which is not yet possible in this reality.

Do you really want to never experience a fulfilling relationship, fortune, fame, or travelling the world? Yes you are truly infinite but not in this game you decided to play. Do you really want to die knowing that you never wrote that book? Do you want to dive into that pain of regret so deeply as to lose yourself? Do you want to spend years burying that regret only to live life as a soulless emotional cypher?

To paraphrase Jed Mckenna, the price of enlightenment is setting fire to your dreams, beliefs, and goals.

High stakes indeed. All because of a simple game you came here to play.

So What do you Do?

You must do something. There is no not doing. Even not doing is doing, as long as you’re bound by time and space. This paradox is just the point, the field of gameplay if you will, and chances are you find yourself closer to taking one option or the other. Or maybe you find yourself careening wildly from one option to another.

In my life, I feel like a Phase 2 player masquerading as a Phase 1 player. I go through all the same motions of a Phase 1 player – including a job I don’t love, a girlfriend, and hobbies – but there is a growing disconnect from one reality to another. The game for me, as a player in the expansion phase, is to find the infinite in the finite and to embrace the limitation as a form of perfection in itself, even as I engage in the limitation fully.

The closest thing to the truth I can write right right now is that I have absolutely no real idea where this is taking me. In the past few days I’ve realized that I have no idea what I want – only wild speculation. It is impossible for me, the player, to predict what I will find most joyful and thus it is impossible for me to have real and lasting goals at this point in time.

Looking back at my hardcore goal setting ways, it’s easy for me only to get a picture of my false beliefs – nothing more. The future then, though it doesn’t really exist, is clear. The truth about reality is there is no certainty and that predictable patterns exists only so that they can later be refuted in another shocking twist to the ever more intricate story.

You read my blog because you are compelled to find the truth in it. But the reality is, there is no truth that I can speak for sure – there are simply models of truth. And the idea of setting goals based on a reality that doesn’t exist is just as silly as believing in that reality in the first place. I’ve spent my life planning and executing, insuring against catastrophe and ultimately sabotaging it – ending up at square one again and again and again.

Goals and planning are ways to intellectually satisfy the need for security, but that insecurity is just the point. And I would say the fight is all for naught, but for the very reason that all is perfect. Even now as I write, I shuttle back and forth between what I know to be true, and what I believe to be true (in this case the false illusions of this hologram) I feel as though I’m being torn in two, as I try to give some solace to those who are experiencing or soon will be experiencing the expansion phase.

But the truth is there is no solace, as there is no pain, and the pain you may feel as you watch your future crumble will be in the perfect amount to the support you feel from your expanded self. I’m cold right now, but not so cold that I can’t type. Cold enough that it echoes the sobering experience of watching dreams burn.

Yet this is how it must be. The truth is, whatever you were meant to experience, you will. There is no true missed opportunity, only the false belief in one. The only goal is to play the game the way you were meant to play it, including figuring out how you were meant to play it in the first place. Expansion is the beautiful process of truly changing, or more accurately, realizing that true change is accepting who you really are.

I got where I am in life not because of my goals, but despite them. I know what it feels like to be truly happy, even if it looks nothing like I thought it would, and I got here seemingly by accident. The only thing goals gave me were a world of pain, and for that I sincerely thank them.

But in this acceptance I realize that I may find myself in the wee hours of the night, hatching some new scheme, or drawing a detailed flowchart of the next five years. And in this, I am not wrong. Reactive mode is not one thing, and so it is incredibly hard to communicate with words. But it includes all things, even those that seemed like good and bad experiences in the past. Expansion takes the shape of all your hopes and dreams and failures and regrets and asks you to walk down those tear-soaked steps one more time. This is the most courageous thing you could ever do.

To those who want to know what it’s like when you get to the play phase, I can’t tell you because I haven’t gotten to that chapter in my story yet. But for those looking for an honest understanding of what real transformation looks like – this is it.

5 thoughts on “What Happens When You Give up Goals in the Expansion Phase of Phase 2?”

  1. You know reading this post I was spellbound sort of waiting the climax, and then midway a voice spoke and it said, if say a therapist was to read the thoughts we Phase 2 players have as we embark on our discovery they would think us insane! But I continued on still captivated in your (my) journey.

    I myself hardly use the Process as I found a flaw in it’s design, that flaw being judgment. I feel that in order to use the Process we inherently judge our discomfort and want it to go away, which negates it. Makes it null and void. I just can’t get past that and no one has proved me otherwise.

    Now Robert is going on a sabbatical from teaching and I will not get this puzzle piece
    resolved. So I will forever stay locked in Phase 1, and maybe that is the game I am supposed to play.

    I also picked up a copy of “Writing down the bones,” by Natalie Goldberg per your recommendation and it’s wonderful. I have yet to start my exercises on a daily basis but I will if that is my game.

    I love your blog,


  2. I love the way you write, something so tricky to explain, but so truth… I mean Truth with capital “T” if you know what I mean.
    I also feel motivated to write but my English is kind of limited, I guess I’ll create a spot somewhere to do it on my own language.
    I hope my E S will give the clarity and charisma that you posses.

    I appreciate your writings.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *