In a world that wants you to conform, follow the rules, and keep up with the Joneses, it can be really hard to always be yourself. And yet, it is completely necessary if you want to make your life more fulfilling.

Frustration, resentment, and unhappiness are just a few of the feelings that can come from trying to be someone else’s ideal version of you. On the other hand, contentment, joy, and peace are a few of the feelings that can come from being true to yourself.

It’s not always an easy path to take because it takes courage and vulnerability, but with a few key practices you can hold true to you and create a fulfilling life.

Take 5.

As a solo entrepreneur, being true to myself and taking a stand for what I believe in are integral pieces of building a business I really want to have. But there are days when all of the items on my to do list plus the distractions of social media, email, and kids running through the house can leave me feeling overwhelmed and questioning what I’m really doing… and who I really am.

So I take a break. Sometimes for just 5 minutes. And during that break, I turn off all electronics, walk away from my to do list, and find a quiet spot. This is an opportunity to breathe and reconnect to myself.

After taking five, I feel centered and grounded. Like I’ve landed again. And from here, I can move forward again.

Action: Take a five minute break from everything. Breathe, meditate, go for a walk, or dance it out. But whatever you do, make sure it is something that brings you back to you.

Be kind to yourself.

I have days when nothing feels right. My jeans don’t fit, my energy is low, and I just don’t want to be around anyone. Least of all myself.

But rather than fight this feeling and force myself to smile and call a friend and be around people, I have learned to be gentle with myself. I let myself sleep in. I read a book. I eat what sounds good… without judgment.

Giving myself time to expand into the “not-right” feelings, allows it to pass sooner, and I find myself back on my path way faster than when I’ve tried to fight it.

Action: When your inner bully is calling you names and when you feel “off”, do something kind for yourself. Take a bubble bath, take a nap, watch your favorite movie… but do it with love and without judgment.

Celebrate the small stuff.

We all celebrate the big stuff: you get a promotion, graduate from college, get married, have a baby, etc. But these events don’t happen very often.

When I first left my corporate job to start my own business, I had a constant sense of failure and dread. Nothing felt like it was going well.

But after a while, I realized that I wasn’t giving myself enough credit, and I was measuring success by outdated standards (aka getting the bonus checks and launching the multimillion dollar products).

So I started a practice of celebrating the small stuff. And by celebrate I don’t mean going out to a 5-star restaurant, sometimes it’s enough to just get a high five from my husband.

Celebrating the small stuff is about acknowledging the good stuff that you make happen every day, whether that’s “I got one new subscriber” or “I made my first video” or “I landed my first speaking gig”.

And by celebrating the small stuff, you reinforce the good work you are doing every day. The little things that happen because you are being you.

No matter how big or small, every day there is something to celebrate.

Action: Take five minutes at the end of each day to list what went well (or your accomplishments).. at least 3.

Think about someone else.

No matter who you are, you have people in your life: family, friends, coworkers, neighbors. And you have someone who relies on you for something, whether it is for keeping a roof over their heads and food in the fridge or a smile, a helping hand, a friendly reminder.

On those days when everything is overwhelming and frustrated, I think about my husband. Or my best friend. Or my stepsons. And I remember not just how important they are in my life, but what I add to theirs. This isn’t a conceited line of thinking. This is taking credit for what I bring to the table.

Whether that’s my sense of humor, supportiveness, uncanny ability to pick just the right gift, or the example I set. I add to their lives. This reminder helps me be more of who I am because I know that it’s important to someone else.

You are important to others. Remember that.

Action: When you get overwhelmed in your daily life, take a few minutes to think about who you impact by being you and doing the things you do.

Your life is what you make it.

How you show up, how happy you are, and how fulfilling your life is, are all up to you. You get to make the choices every day to step into courage and own who you are — or not. It’s not always easy to choose courage, but it is completely worth it.

Love yourself first, and the rest will follow.

Featured photo credit: Brandon Warren via farm5.staticflickr.com

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