If you want a happy, fulfilling, and enjoyable life, you have pick the path that makes your heart sing.

This may sound simple, but if you’re anything like I used to be, your mind is such a chatterbox about what ‘looks good’ or ‘opens the most doors’ or ‘looks good on paper’ that your mind drowns out the voice of your heart. You make choices based on what sounds reasonable instead of what you are passionate about. When you do this, you’ll find that one day you wake up and realize that, despite having a life that looks pretty successful, you are feeling rather numb inside.

Is this you? Here are 8 signs that you are not following your heart and need to start again.

1. You have others make important decisions for you.

If you don’t know or don’t like what your heart is telling you, you designate someone else to make important decisions for you. Should I go on a second date with Ella? Should I go to law school or join this non-for-profit? This way you don’t need to deal with your heart at all and can always blame the other person if things go wrong. The only problem here is that you are no longer the master engineer of your life. In the end, it is far more fulfilling to make all of your own choices, ‘right’ or ‘wrong,’ and take whatever consequences come your way. That is what it means to be alive.

2. You are ‘succeeding,’ but feel…nothing.

You have worked for months to get that project, engagement, or club membership. But now that you have it, you don’t feel the wave of joy that you had predicted. You are on to the next project. This likely means one of two things: either your heart wasn’t in the project, or your inner do-a-holic took over. Regardless, take a minute to savor a project when you complete it. Ask yourself, “Does this make me happy? Why?” Give your heart a chance to share its opinion. And be okay with the answer if it’s, “I just am not that excited about it!”

3. You think in terms of pros and cons lists.

The mind loves to make lists. The heart does not: it just feels. So if you find yourself making or justifying a decision with a pros and cons list, consider that you have not consulted your heart. It’s okay to make these lists, but they have to be used in partnership with the ‘gut’ feeling from your heart.

4. You are a chameleon.

You are proud of your ability to fit in anywhere and get along with anyone, which is a talent, for sure. But in masterfully adapting to new environments, you lose sight of who you are. Consider that if you fit in everywhere, maybe it’s time that you didn’t.

5. You have to drag yourself out of bed in the morning.

The old cliché is usually true. If you are not looking forward to what the day holds in store for you, then odds are that there is something blocking your heart from getting excited about it. This could be something as simple as an issue that needs to be resolved before your heart can sing again, or something as all-encompassing as the fact that your job is not the right one for you. Start to investigate. Ask your heart what you are dreading about your day, and take action.

6. You are always thinking about what you really want.

You are dating John, but thinking about Ted. You are working at a bank but wish you were advising in Washington. You need to figure out if these thoughts are a ‘grass is always greener’ mentality, or if these thoughts really are your heart trying to tell you that you need to make different choices. You can do this by taking three actions per week that investigate what you really want. Pay attention to your heart. If the more you learn, the more you want the new path, then your heart is likely telling you to make a change.

7. You’re afraid to stand out.

You know what your heart is telling you to do (“Tell your boss that you have a great idea for the project!”), but you are afraid of being wrong, looking bad, or being rejected. So you zip up and don’t say anything. This may be a safe approach to life, but it sure won’t win you any awards for happiness. Consider that in order to follow your heart, you are going to have to stand out.

8. You are not using your natural passions.

You may be good at what you do, but being good at something doesn’t necessarily mean you are passionate about it. Think back on the 20 happiest moments of your life. What do they have in common? In there you will find your passions. Are those passions present in your current job? In your relationship?

The first step to finding your heart is to admit that you are not listening to it in a certain aspect of your life. Then you can get curious and start to give your heart the air time that it needs.

Which points on this list describe you? Write me a note and share.

Featured photo credit: Happy kid is happy/Nicko Witjatmoko via flickr.com

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