Occasionally, a coaching client is adamant about pursuing some acquisition or result that seems to make no sense given who they are or where they say they want to go in life. It’s useful to take the case that at some level, all of those decisions make sense against some inner drive we may not be aware of.

We drive ourselves to work on and spend money on things that don’t always matter to our experience of satisfaction and happiness because we believe that those things actually do matter – that acquiring that result or thing will be what makes the difference in our lives. We find out later that they don’t… after we’ve spent the time and/or money. To compound the issue, even though we learn that lesson, we go into the next time or money expenditure thinking that this time it will be different – this result/thing will be what makes me happy.

I’ve seen people drive themselves into ill-health, dissatisfaction, exhaustion, loss of family and friends to make a lot of money; to be the person with the most toys; to be the first or fastest X; to be the biggest IPO ever; to be the best results project in history; to be the most respected X in their industry; to buy super expensive cars for the image they hope it will project about them; alter their bodies through surgeries to look younger; take on a lover outside their marriage to acquire what feels missing in their lives; get another degree to feel smarter; buy a bigger house; more jewelry; expensive clothing, furniture, televisions, computers, phones; fancy dinners; expensive travel… and so on, and on and on. We all know people like this (we might even be people like this).

I’m not talking about the general ownership of these things or about the general drive to learn, to produce, to make – because having drive itself, or ownership itself doesn’t necessarily mean the drive was to fill some hole, or that the thing was purchased to fill a hole — I’m talking about the drive or pursuit of results or things not for the value of the thing itself, but for the hole the person hoped to fill in themselves by the acquisition of the result or the thing.

But the result or thing never fills the hole, so we keep driving, producing and spending and keep hoping that whatever is missing is going to be satisfied with our purchase.

Until we do the work to identify what these holes are made up of for ourselves, we will likely keep attempting to fill them with something external to ourselves and never be fully satisfied.

Where are your holes and what are you doing to attempt to shore them up? What internal development work could you do to identify those holes and stop trying to fill them with external bandaids?