Pursue the Impossible

The Power of Chasing Your Deepest Longings through Intentional Living

Aaron Marshall
5 min readMay 1, 2023

Keywords: purpose, values, vision, identity, habits, self-discovery, community, daily choices, self-reflection, personal development.

Who are you becoming?

Do you feel overwhelmed by the busyness of everyday life? Perhaps you forgot that you are a hero mid-journey? It’s time to press pause and consider the bigger, deeper stuff that stirs your soul.

Contrary to popular belief, it’s precisely because life feels so full that we need to prioritize intentional living.

It’s even more effective to do start this journey with a community of like-minded individuals who support each other in their pursuit of a more meaningful life.

Let me share my own experience with you. This past weekend, my family had three birthday parties, eight water polo games, one soccer match, and a movie to attend. On top of that, there was house cleaning and several outings to manage. It’s no wonder life feels full sometimes. Despite the full schedule, I was able to carve out time for daily exercise, devotion, healthy meals, and one-on-one conversations with my loved ones. More than that, I wore the weekend differently than I would have years ago. I transitioned through activities while remaining present with my family. Patience overran stress and pressure. And I experience this thriving posture far more frequently each passing year.

Don’t be fooled. I didn’t just add these actions to a to-do list and then cross them off. I didn’t summon supernatural willpower. There’s no calendar app that moved me into intentional living. My weekend simply offers an example of healthy rhythms — my collection of daily choices that turned to habit over time and now happen almost naturally. These habits free me to be more present — to my family and myself — as I lean into my values and longings.

Living intentionally is not one magical decision. It is thousands of little decisions that all line up, each moment, with the broader pursuit to which I have already decided to give myself. In the early stage — when the deciding is loosely held, it will feel daunting. But, the journey toward your deepest longings is worth pursuing. Getting clear about who you are and who you want to become — clarifying your driving values — these decisions will help you commit to living bigger, loving deeper, and continuing to do what matters most.

Dallas Willard spells this out in Renovation of the Heart with his “reliable pattern” for pursuing what matters most — VIM: Vision, Intention, and Means. He argues that lasting change occurs when your aim, motivation, and habits all line up. Living intentionally requires this kind of focused alignment — getting clear about your driving values, who you want to become, and what it will really take to get there.

Let your deepest longings serve as guides — urging you toward a worthwhile destination where you become who you were meant to be, and you experience life as you imagine it could be experienced.

We pursue the impossible with intention because we hope deeply that our longings call us someplace real.

Why hope for your longings to be fulfilled?

With all the disappointment in life, why pursue something as unlikely as fulfilled longings?

Your longings ache within you because they connect to your deeper sense of purpose, meaning, and fulfillment in life. They are profound and enduring — they link arms with your values, aspirations, and sense of identity.

But many of us are afraid to pursue these deep longings. Instead, we settle for our easier to fulfill desires. These tend to be associated with more specific and immediate wants, such as craving a particular type of food or itching for a specific activity. They are often focused on fulfilling a particular need or achieving a specific goal.

Longings may not be as specific or immediately achievable as desires, but they are more significant in terms of their impact on our overall well-being and sense of satisfaction.

CS Lewis speaks to the difference in “Weight of Glory,” noting:

We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered [to] us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

Ouch. Read that quote a second time.

Are we too easily pleased? Consider the “easy” decisions we make daily that feed our moment-by-moment comfort:

  • the hard conversation we avoid because working through it would color the day,
  • the relationship-building we dodge because small talk with another parent sounds exhausting,
  • the societal issues we ignore as we pass an unhoused man pushing his grocery cart or begging on the offramp.

Do you work hard to “present well” despite bubbling anxiety, worry, or resentment?

You are not alone. We are too easily pleased.

Pursuing the impossible — the deep longings — is not easy. It takes work, but perhaps not the work you imagine. You won’t gut it out with super-willpower. You won’t make one giant courageous decision that changes everything in a moment.

Instead, you must get clear — crystal clear — about who you are and where you are heading. You do have to make some decisions. Ask yourself:

1. Do I know my driving values?

2. Do I have a clear sense of who I am?

3. Do I have a clear picture of who I long to become?

4. Am I willing to do whatever it takes to become that person?

Start with these four questions. This is the early work.

From here, you will be able to dig into your longings, and begin the daily, consistent work of practicing — building habits that move you toward the impossible goal of fulfilled longings.

Aaron Marshall, PhD

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Dr. Aaron Marshall | PhD, eMBA

Meet Aaron, an entrepreneur and C-suite executive with over 15 years coaching and consulting around habits, culture, & strategy. His academic journey in philosophy & education blends nicely with his practical business experience as a brick-and-mortar and digital entrepreneur, NPO founder, and zoo COO. Aaron wrote a book on habits & a children’s series on courage. He teaches Social Entrepreneurship at Westmont College, serves as affiliate faculty at Penn State’s Kurt Hahn Consortium for Values & Experiential Learning, and sits on several local boards. When not working, Aaron enjoys outdoor activities with his wife and three children in Santa Barbara.

You can connect with Aaron on LinkedIn or by visiting his website.



Aaron Marshall

Thriving family guy & founder w/ PhD. equips you to scale your impact. coaches execs/owners. teaches undergrads. COOs at zoo. surfs w/ his kids. armarshall.com