Should You Try Harder? Or Softer?

I want to share with you the strange but true tale of how one of my biggest dreams came true. There’s a lot of teaching out there about manifestation—intentionality, goal-setting, and planning for dreams, actively going after them. Often overlooked and underappreciated in that teaching is the art of letting go, which is just as important.

In October of 2015, I visited a friend who lived in the guest cottage of a larger home that stood on two immaculately landscaped acres in one of the most desirable parts of upcountry Maui. The main house encircled a courtyard with a pond at the center and had an open floor plan with vaulted ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows. Its long, rectangular yard featured a par three golf-hole, a large swimming pool surrounded by stout Samoan palm trees holding liters of coconut water at arm’s reach, and a hot tub inside a convincingly created cave at the edge of the pool. The top of the cave served as a diving platform almost three meters high. It was owned by my friend’s friend—let’s call her Jill.

The first thing I said to my friend when I saw it was, “I’m going to buy Jill’s house.”

I’d been looking for property for a while and not found anything. Well, I’d found some things, but what I wanted was way out of my price range. On Maui, anywhere on the island, even getting a condo for under 500k is considered lucky. Think Manhattan prices.

Jill’s house was another moment of inspiration with a twinge of sadness. It was easily worth around $2MM. But when I said, “I want to buy Jill’s house,” I felt something powerful. It rang true. I saw something in my mind’s eye. It was vague and impressionistic, but there was something there. My gut was telling me this house would somehow one day be mine, but my mind dismissed it as unreasonable. It wasn’t even for sale, much less within my price range.

By the spring of 2016, I was still renting and had started to lose hope. Inventory was scarce, and what I could afford, I wouldn’t want to live in. I worked my butt off and saved all I could to expand my options.

My coach noticed my frustration and urgency about it and suggested something counter-intuitive. She asked me to put down on paper a vision of what I wanted, fold it up, and put it in what she called a “God-box.” Whatever you believe, this is a box that represents you giving up your personal will to something else, be it God, the universe, life itself, etc. You accept the limitations of your willful efforts and acknowledge that if it’s going to happen, on a certain level it’s out of your hands.

For me this wasn’t an easy method to embrace. I’ve made many things happen in my life, and this was never part of my modus operandi. Letting go? How’s that going to help?

The idea of it threatened my sense of control and felt like defeat; but in another way, it felt like a relief from the constant pushing. Besides, what I was doing hadn’t been working and had only caused me suffering.

So I tried it. I wrote out my vision for my house, included a deadline of January 1, 2017, put it in a little wooden box in my closet, and let it go.

That September, my agent showed me a house in an unfamiliar area on the north shore. It was rural, but only twenty-five minutes to town. It wasn’t exactly my vision, but it was beautiful. Just two bedrooms and one bath on an acre in the jungle, with an ocean view, beautifully finished with oiled wood floors, and a vaulted hem-fir ceiling. I loved it!

However, an all-cash offer (I couldn’t compete with that) had already been accepted by the time I even shared my interest, the very day of the open-house I attended. My agent called to deliver the news that evening.

“Not my house,” I said to myself, surprising myself at my lack of disappointment. I pondered this. “This is the only thing I’ve seen in eighteen months that’s even close to what I want. Why am I not upset?” I just wasn’t. Curious.

A few days later, my agent called to let me know our offer was held as a backup by the seller, who said she may be listing a house in the coming months in the same area. That house wasn’t ready to list yet because there was some tenant drama happening related to fire ant treatment.

Coincidentally I was on my way to my friend’s cottage (from the top of the story), and told her the news. She heard “tenant dispute” and “fire ants” and said, “Hmm. That sounds like Jill’s house.”

“Huh? Jill has another house?” It turned out she did! Ten minutes later, Jill came by to say hello, and confirmed it. The tenant was moving out in a few weeks, and we arranged for me to see it.

It took me a few days to register it, but I realized it was the house. As in, the house. The one I had written down on that piece of paper and put away in my God-box.

By that time, I had saved just enough to make the down payment.

I closed on the house eleven days after my box deadline, on January 12, 2017, but had moved in the previous November. I bought Jill’s house, but not how I thought at all!

The moral of the story? Manifestation has a Clear side and an Open side. The Clear part is the declaration of intention, the work, and putting in the effort—especially when you don’t want to. The Open part is letting go and realizing that ultimately nothing is in your control.

We’re conditioned to believe that hard work is what creates results, and while it can be true, it’s only half of the picture. There’s such a thing as trying too hard, like when you reach for something in the water and your splashing pushes it away.  (Click to tweet)

It can be difficult to discern when more effort is required, and when less is. This is something I help Clear and Open Members with in our weekly coaching calls. Hop on over here to see if membership might be right for you. Whatever you decide, may your dreams come ever closer.

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