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Last Updated on September 23, 2020

Feeling off Track in Life? Here’s How to Stay True to Yourself

Feeling off Track in Life? Here’s How to Stay True to Yourself

You often hear people say, “be true to yourself” or “‘just be you.” Many legendary quotes speak to this concept, yet we can often feel like we’re off track when it comes to being our true selves.

My primary goal as a coach and consultant is to help people get back on track—to live a life of greater happiness, fulfillment, and success.

While there are many (awesome) books, courses, programs, and words of advice on living a life you love, I always come back to the conclusion that the fastest way to get there is to be true to yourself.

There’s No Place Like Home — Your True Self

In the movie “The Wizard of Oz,” Dorothy taps her ruby red slippers together and repeats, “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home…”

The same is true for each of us: there’s no place like home. There is a core in each of us where we thrive. This place or “state” is a reservoir from which we generate health and energy. Ultimately, your body, mind, and spirit all yearn to get back to this “home.”

Much of our stress, angst, and frustration is caused by being disconnected from, or out of alignment with, the source of who we are.

Why People Stop Being True to Themselves

From a  young age, we are pulled off track from being true to ourselves by well-meaning family members, teachers, the education system, our communities, and society.

Perhaps you were told to be quiet when you had much to say; or maybe your curiosity was crushed when your “whys” were met with “because I said so”; or your creativity and free spirit were suffocated when you were forced to fit in and sit quietly in a traditional classroom setting.

There are hundreds of examples of this, and I’m sure you have your own.

In fact, we as a culture, society, and species are derailed now more than ever. We are thrown off by the multitude of challenges in our own lives, by what’s happening in our countries and the world. There are unrealistic expectations and demands coming from every direction.

We are pulled off track by our 24-hour, technology-fueled world[1]. We are being pulled in different and sometimes even opposite directions, playing the many roles in our lives–employee, friend, parent, partner. All of these diverse roles have their own demands and expectations.

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We read books about how we should do things, take courses on what we are supposed to do, and try to model what we see others doing  to improve ourselves or be the right influence on others. And depending on the day of the week or the newest article or study, the advice is often different and conflicting!

How in the world are we supposed to get back on track when all of this is happening?

What Happens If You Are Not True to Yourself

It’s no wonder there are such staggering statistics around stress, health, and well-being, especially here in the U.S.[2].

For one reason or another, we are disconnected from our core self, we have slipped out of alignment with who we really are and what we already know. That pull is having widespread and significant consequences.

Let’s think of “being true to self” as a magnet. Your core self is compelled to get back “home,” but life’s circumstances and crises may actually have a stronger and demanding pull. As you get pulled from your home base, it’s like a magnet being wrenched from its attachment.

What happens when you pull a magnet away? It gets shaky and tries to get back. But if you let it, it will snap right back into place. Again, if you try to pull it away, it shakes again.

The Warning Signs

Now think of this for yourself. When you get separated from your core self, from being true to you, what do you experience? Do you get “shaky” like the magnet?

This disorientation can manifest as:

  • Physical symptoms such as low energy, headaches, stomach issues, tense muscles, frequent colds and infections, rapid heartbeat, chest pain, etc.
  • Emotional symptoms can include feelings of anger, frustration, being overwhelmed, loneliness, and eventually depression or anxiety.

These warning signs are your body’s way of saying that it wants to go home.

But most of the time, we ignore these signs. We keep pushing them down or forcing our way through. If we get a headache, we take a painkiller; if we have high blood pressure, we get a prescription; if we feel depressed or anxious, we drink a bottle of wine or take a tranquilizer.

However, the reason those things are showing up is to tell you something. Your body may be telling or even screaming at you that something is not working. What we really need to do is pause and identify the “why” behind the symptoms we are experiencing.

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These often relate to us being off track from our true selves and what works best for us.

How to Be True to Yourself and Get Back on Track

You might, at this point, be thinking this all sounds wonderful, but how do you get back on track? Some of you might even be wondering what being true to yourself even looks like any more.

Here are 10 ways to be true to you and get back on track again:

1. Identify What You Need to Thrive

One way to figure this out is to think about times in your life when you felt fantastic, otop of things, under control, in the zone.

Think about times in your life when you felt happy, fulfilled, and successful. Write them down.

Now, think about what it was about those times that made them so great. Was it the environment you were in? The people you were surrounded by? Something you were building or creating?

Maybe you had a clear picture, a plan, a purpose, or challenge?

2. Think About What Makes You Happy

What makes you feel joy or laugh? What do you love to do?

Are you doing those things? How can you live more in touch with your passions or be doing more of the things that make you happy?

3. Pinpoint What Makes You Feel Most Like You

Think about when you feel most like yourself. What makes you feel connected, grounded and centered with who you are?

Maybe it’s spending time with friends and family, or connecting with your spirituality through meditation. Maybe it’s a sense of adventure when traveling or the calmness that comes when you’re cozied up with a good book.

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What nourishes your soul at a deep level?

4. Know When You Don’t Feel Like You

In order to get back on track, you have to know you’re off track in the first place. That’s why it’s just as important to know when you don’t feel like you.

How do you know when things aren’t working for you? Think about what pulls you out of stride.

We talked before about physical and emotional symptoms that show up. What are those for you? What do you think, hear, or feel?

Notice. Pay attention to these early warning signals your mind and body are sending you.

5. Look at Your Core Values

Do you know what’s most important to you? How can you reprioritize and put those things first? If one of your core values is family, how can you live that more?

Can you stop working extra hours at work in order to have more time with your kids? Can you plan a weekly date night with your spouse?

 

If you need help finding your values, check out this article.

6. Use Your Talents

What are the innate strengths or talents that you could be using more? Are you amazing at solving problems, listening to friends, or cooking healthy, wholesome food? Where can you use that talent now?

7. Connect With Your Purpose

Some people are very clear about their purpose, while others are still searching. I know this is a big one.

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Even if you aren’t clear on what your purpose is, are you living each day with purpose? Or do you get off track by distractions, expectations, or life[3]?

If you get off track, find your purpose.

    8. Focus on Taking Care of All of You

    Get back to basics with healthy eating and living. Focus on your overall wellness, and take care of your body.

    Does that mean you need to exercise more? Sleep more? Mediate more often?

    I’m a big advocate of a healthy body. While I believe this piece is important, it’s also important to note that you could work days and years on your health, nutrition, hydration, etc, but if you don’t take a step back and look at the energetic pieces of you, you’re not going to make much progress.

    9. Rediscover What You Loved to Do Before Things Got so Busy

    Was it hiking outdoors? Being with friends? Sitting in the library reading a good book? Doing absolutely nothing at all?

    Try making more time for these things now.

    10. Let Go

    Let go of the expectations of others and the way you “should” do things. Let go of who you are trying to be and, instead, try being you.

    We try so hard to please, to meet expectations, to make others happy, or to fit in. Much about being true to you is about what you let go of as much as what you hold on to.

    The Bottom Line

    As you might imagine, you don’t have to do all 10 of these to get back on track. Just one step in the right direction will start to lead you home.

    How do you know which one to start with? Like the magnet, see which ones attract you. Which one of these resonated most with you?

    If you’re not sure, read them again, and see which one(s) have that magnetic pull. Your core self knows which one of these is the next right thing to focus on for you.

    More Tips to Help You Get Back on Track

    Featured photo credit: Eye for Ebony via unsplash.com

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    Tracy Kennedy

    Lifehack's Personal Development Expert, a results-driven coach dedicated to helping people achieve greater levels of happiness and success.

    What Am I Doing With My Life? Find Your Answer Here how to stop being a perfectionist How to Stop Being a Perfectionist (Step-by-Step Guide) 10 Strategies to Keep Moving Forward When Feeling Stuck Take Back Control of your Life with Positive Emotions off track Feeling off Track in Life? Here’s How to Stay True to Yourself

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    Last Updated on November 9, 2020

    The 5 Most Important Things in Life You’ll Regret Not Pursuing

    The 5 Most Important Things in Life You’ll Regret Not Pursuing

    It’s common to think about what the most important things in life are. We all seek to align ourselves with things that truly matter and that will ultimately add to our happiness and fulfillment.

    How we set ourselves up to create a life well-lived versus a life half-lived is often more about the regrets we have over the things we failed to do rather than the things we actually did.

    We regret more not becoming our ideal selves, or the person we truly wanted to be. We regret living an unfulfilled life. We regret living in fear and not having the courage to focus on the things and people that truly matter most.

    What is important in life, really? With that question in mind, we’ll take a look at the things most people regret not pursuing and how to live a life grounded in what really matters

    What We Regret Most

    “I knew that if I failed I wouldn’t regret that, but I knew the one thing I might regret is not trying.” -Jeff Bezos

    Research has found that people are haunted more by regrets about failing to fulfill their hopes, goals, and aspirations than by regrets about failing to fulfill their duties, obligations, and responsibilities.[1]

    Published in Emotion, the researchers surveyed hundreds of participants, making a distinction between the “ideal self” (not achieving goals they had set for themselves, their dreams, and ambitions) and “the ought self” (not meeting the norms and rules they had for themselves or fulfilling their obligations to others). They asked participants to list, name, and categorize their regrets.[2]

    Across the different studies, the participants said they experienced regrets concerning their ideal self more often (72% vs. 28%). Furthermore, when asked to name their single biggest regret in life, participants were more likely to mention a regret about not fulfilling their ideal self (76% vs. 24%).

    “When we evaluate our lives, we think about whether we’re heading toward our ideal selves, becoming the person we’d like to be. Those are the regrets that are going to stick with you, because they are what you look at through the windshield of life. The ‘ought’ regrets are potholes on the road. Those were problems, but now they’re behind you.” – Tom Gilovich

    Let’s ponder a couple of questions:

    What is it that you currently regret most about your life?

    What do you most not want to regret about your life when your time is up?

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    People regret their inactions more than their actions in the long term. Not falling in love, not hanging out with good friends, and not working toward a healthy body are just a couple of common themes.

    Maybe you never started writing that book despite your love for writing. Perhaps you haven’t set up your own dream business because you were afraid of what people would think if you actually tried.

    The thing is, taking action is that first step to ensure you avoid regrets. Confidence comes with taking action. Making a commitment to follow through and then having the courage to do it builds the momentum.

    If we don’t fearlessly pursue these things, we start blaming ourselves for not taking action and the regret compounds.

    The Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda

    If you are clear on our purpose and priorities in life, you can create the personal power necessary to push through, and take action on the things that matter most.

    When you make a decision to focus on the most important things in life, you’ll move from “woulda, coulda, shoulda” to “I lived a life worth living” and “I made a difference.”

    To get through the hardest journey, we need take only one step at a time, but we must keep on stepping. – Chinese Proverb

    Bonnie Ware’s 2012 book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying tells us much about living a life to minimize regrets.[3] Ware spent many years in palliative care, looking after patients who had gone home to die. When she questioned these patients about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, a number of common themes came up.

    The five most common themes were, in descending order:

    • I wish I’d had the courage to life a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
    • I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
    • I wish I had the courage to express my feelings.
    • I wish I’d stayed in touch with friends.
    • I wish that I’d let myself be happier.

    The most common regret, by far, was “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself not the life others expected of me.” According to Ware:

    “Most people had not honored even half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices that they made, or not made.”

    These themes are similar to the ones that came through when Guardian journalist Emma Freud asked the question on Twitter “What is your biggest regret?”[4]

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    Being held back by fear, self-blame and bad choices around love, learning, and loss were the most frequent responses.

    The most frequent regrets focused around:

    • Not doing the right thing/being there when someone died
    • Not speaking up
    • Not pursuing higher levels of education
    • Fear of following their dreams
    • Unrequited or non-pursuit of love
    • Self-blame around anxiety
    • Taking too long to make a change

    The 5 Most Important Things in Life

    Through all of my research, speaking to clients, friends, family and my own self-analysis of regrets in my life, there are 5 core things in your life that you’ll probably regret not pursuing if you don’t do something about them today.

    A lot of the other regrets you may have are a by-product of not getting the core things right.

    1. Becoming the Best Version of Yourself

    We often let doubt and fear hold us back from living a life of purpose and passion. This stops us from constantly growing and becoming a better version of ourselves. We forget to cultivate good health and relationships with family members or practice self-care for better mental health.

    We have a number of things we want to do in our lives, yet many of these things never see the light of day. We worry that we don’t have the right information to make the right decision. We’re scared of the changes that could happen in our lives and so take the safe route instead.

    This leads to regret, self-blame, and self-doubt. However, it is within us to create that amazing life we want. It means not worrying about what others think or how we will be judged.

    Be fully present, surround yourself with the right people that cheer you on, have more fun, and take more risks. No matter how many times you fall you get back up and keep moving forward.

    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” –Mark Twain

    2. Chasing Your Dreams

    If you don’t have clarity on your bigger purpose, dreams, and goals, it’s very easy to get sucked into an unfulfilling routine made up of long hours at work, bland relationships, and unhealthy habits.

    There is no growth, change, or transformation in this case. Rather than pursuing your dreams and growing every day, you become stuck.

    When you have a clear direction for your life and your priorities are top of mind, you are clearer on the steps you can take to move forward.

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    You are living a life of purposeful, passionate action. You fully trust yourself, so you are willing to take more risks in pursuit of your dreams[5]. Start setting your goals today.

    Set goals to achieve the most important things in life.

      3. Not Living Someone Else’s Life

      Comparing yourself to others and living someone else’s life can only lead to bitterness, self-doubt, inaction, and heartache.

      “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” –Oscar Wilde

      We should make changes in our life because we want to, rather than because of the actions or reactions of someone else. Stay away from negative environments and negative people that can poison your progress, erode your confidence, and cause self-doubt to creep in. Surround yourself, instead, with lots of people that inspire you.

      Many of us get sucked into living the life that we think a good son or daughter should live, or what our parents expect of us.

      We often make key life and business decisions because we think it’s what will make our parents happy. We believe our happiness is derived through their happiness.

      It’s only later, when we become dissatisfied with our lives, that we start to question whose life we’re really living and if we’re truly focusing on the important things in life.

      4. Starting Tomorrow

      We always think we have more time than we do. In reality, we don’t know what tomorrow will bring, so the best thing you can do is start making a change today.

      Spending just five minutes now doing something significant, in this present moment, could help you move one step closer to your dreams.

      It could be a decision you make, a conversation you have, something you read, etc. The point is to focus on the present moment.

      For example, if you want to travel more, you can make a plan to save money each month for a big vacation. In the next couple of weeks, look up possible destinations and make an itinerary once you choose one. With each small step, you’ll get closer to achieving your goal, so start today, even if it’s just by creating a plan or timeline.

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      You can learn more about creating an action plan here.

      5. Spending Time With Family and Friends

      One of the biggest investments you can make in your life is to free up more of your time to spend with the people that matter most.

      This is often easier said than done. How do you balance your work commitments with being home for dinner with your family or spending more time with your children?

      Long hours at work can cause worry and stress. You’re worried about “not putting the hours in at work” and creating issues with your boss and co-workers, but at the same time your family is also relying on you to be there.

      It’s important to take control of your schedule to ensure you are there for both the everyday and the moments that matter in the hearts and minds of the people closest to you.

      One study of 309,000 people found that “lack of strong relationships increased the risk of premature death from all causes by 50%.[6] This is likely because social connection helps us reduce stress hormones and increase feel-good hormones that keep us happy and healthy.

      The most important things in life are often the most important people in your life, so make it a priority to spend time with them.

      Final Thoughts

      Too often, we don’t focus on and spend enough time figuring out how we can live the happy life that we want. This leads to recriminations, self-doubt, blame, and regrets.

      Create clarity around what and who is most important to you and your purpose, and then take the courageous steps to focus only on those things that truly matter.

      That way, you’re far more likely to create a life well-lived, rather than one full of regrets.

      More on Living a Fulfilling Life

      Featured photo credit: Katie Treadway via unsplash.com

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