Sunday, January 25, 2015

How do you know that you are on the right path in life?

How do you know that you are on the right path in life?

When we’re young, we’re processing a lot of different things simultaneously. We need to negotiate our identity, beliefs, our sense of independence and also figure out what we really want in life. Life might make little sense to us; we wonder about why people act the way they do, and we don’t always feel in control of our bodies and emotions. It’s a scary, tumultuous time and we make lots of mistakes, and very few of us are really thinking “is this my best life?”

As we get older, we start to establish some foundations. We move past some of our anxieties (certainly not all of them) and we have a stronger sense of identity. We figure out a lot of the “why” that we wondered about earlier. We become a little more stuck in our ways and establish routines. We realise that the choices we’ve made in life have far-reaching consequences. We fall into the daily grind of work and responsibilities.

But for many of us, we also lose something that we had in our youth – a sense of optimism and drive that anything is possible. We might’ve taken more risks in our youth, and consequently had more embarrassment or failure, but these risks were in an effort to try and discover ourselves and to know what our path is. Later in life, we realise just how much there is to lose through taking risks, and we start to avoid them more and more. (We forget, however, how much there is to gain from risks!). We feel like we don’t want to disturb the equilibrium that we’ve created through growing up and figuring some things out. And this is where the question arises: “Is this my best life?”

Is this the life that is most authentically, fully YOU, or is it simply the life you’ve settled for? How do you really know what your calling is in life and where you can be the most effective?

Passion and inspiration

The truth is that there is a lot of uncertainty in life. You might have had dreams when you were younger that you feel are no longer possible, and you might just be choosing the easy path, the one of least resistance, where you can avoid fear and risk.

But there was something magical in those early dreams that you should not ignore. That is why you still remember them so vividly and why avoiding them might even fill you with some regret. Those dreams we formed during our growing years are like a blueprint that’s been etched into us. You might not want them to come true in exactly the same way you imagined as a child, and a lot of those dreams were based on things you might’ve outgrown, but the seed of inspiration and passion is there that fed those dreams in the first place. They’re telling you what really makes you tick and the type of activities that really make you feel alive and fulfilled.

There is something childlike and innocent about living your authentic, passionate life.

You are looking at the world with the same wonder that you did when you were a child and seeing that there are still limitless possibilities in life. There is no need to give up on something that you really desire to express or experience. There is still magic in life.

When we were children, these signs of our callings usually came in the form of imagination. We would already see ourselves living those brilliant lives and having those brilliant things. We would make-believe that we had all the power to make our lives exactly how we wanted them. (We really haven’t lost that ability).

When we’re adults, these indicators come in the form of inspiration. We see those moments in our lives when we are most excited, interested, vibrant and alive, and we wonder, “Can I have more of this? How can I make it happen?” We have ideas that keep us up at night, and even just thinking about them might make us feel happy and driven. We meet someone or go somewhere that triggers our memories of dreams we had abandoned, and those dreams feel real again.

All of these things are callings not to give up on your best life, and all of these tell you which way you should probably be heading in order to get it.

Go in the direction of your passion and inspiration in order to really get the most out of life.

Authenticity is risky

Of course, this path is again a risky one. It is one where there is the possibility of failure and even more confusion. What if you never get exactly what you want, and all of your efforts are wasted? What if you are embarrassed for being so naïve?

Everything worth having is obtained through a certain degree of risk. Having a loving, strong relationship is only possible if you have the courage to ask that person out or to say yes if they ask you out, and there is no guarantee that it will work out. Having a successful business is only possible by taking the risk of starting that business in the first place, investing the time, money and hard work in order to get it off the ground.

Following your real calling in life will always present you with a lot of risk. But it is also the only way you can find your highest joy, love, fulfilment and power.

Healthy risk is going after what you want with a very clear plan, and knowing that there is the very real chance that you will not immediately succeed. You need to be sure that you are in the position to sacrifice a lot in order to get what you want. Or you need to find a way to fit your passionate, authentic living into your life as it currently is if you cannot afford the risk right now. But delaying following your dreams is simply delaying your best life.

What will it lead to if you follow your passion today?

While there are many good things to be gained from following your passion, you should also be sure that you have no illusions about what it will bring in your life.

It probably won’t mean that you will no longer have those same uncertainties and the same problems that you had yesterday. These will very likely persist. It probably won’t immediately take away everything you dislike about yourself. It probably won’t bring you immediate fame, wealth or success; these are things which people usually have to work years in order to achieve, and which might not ultimately bring you the happiness you imagine they will.

But it will be a step towards who you really are. The process will be the reward, as you start to have that drive and purpose in your life again. You will feel valuable and powerful. You will have something to look forward to every day as you get to do the thing that you really love. The longer you live in your truth, the more the rest of your life will start to reflect it as well. Your life can really be meaningful, and you can be the person you always wanted to be.

Isn’t that worth the risk?

Get The Joy of Being Incomplete by Grant Andrews.