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For Those Who Still Don’t Know What They’re Doing With Their Lives, Read This

For Those Who Still Don’t Know What They’re Doing With Their Lives, Read This

“Life was a bloody battlefield until I conquered the enemy and won the war. Now, life is a journey, and I am a warrior. Prepared for anything and weakened by nothing. There are hills and dales, mountains and plateaus, blind spots and brilliant vistas, but none of that matters. All that matters is my second chance, and the only thing capable of disrupting my path, is myself.”
B.G. Bowers,Death and Life

Firstly, thank you for being here and I hope by reading this article you may gain some insight and some strategies to help you solve the dilemma of feeling “lost and frustrated” with your life currently.I can’t promise you that I can give you the solution to the dilemma you face. However, by telling my story and sharing my experiences of feeling lost and frustrated and what I did about it, may help you to make a decision about how you can start to figure out what it is you want to do with your life.

Before I start telling you my story, I would like you, to give yourself a break and acknowledge to yourself that it is OK to feel lost, frustrated and confused about what you want to do with your life. Today, right now, reading this article is the start of your journey to figuring out what the heck it is that you want to do. I also want to say ( yes I am getting to my story very soon…) that it doesn’t matter what age you are 15, 25, 40 , 50, 60, 70, this feeling of being lost and not fulfilled in your life applies to all ages.

“You necessarily have to be lost, before you’re found.”
T. Scott McLeod,All That Is Unspoken

My Story

The first time I remember asking myself the question “what do I want to do with my life?” was when I was heading off to university, and the last time I asked myself that same question was December 1st 2013. I had just been made redundant for the third time in 18 months. Each of these redundancies felt horrible and I don’t care what anyone says it feels like you have been fired, rejected and you feel you are a failure. There was nothing I could do about it, I was not needed and that was it. I had financial commitments such as a mortgage, kids at university to pay for, credit card debt, very little savings, unfinished house that badly needs a new roof and the list goes on.

The Opportunity Created from Three Redundancies

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These three redundancies were the catalyst for me to start making some decisions about my life and what I wanted to do. I also had enough of handing over toother people the power to choose how I lived my life.I knew I had to make some changes because if I kept doing the same things i.e find another job, I would be again vulnerable to experiencing the same results. I had no more energy to get back on the band wagon and start applying for jobs. I am in my early 50’s and getting a job that I liked (not loved) was a bit like winning the Lottery.

Commitment and the Fear of Failure

I decided to make a commitment to take action because I had always known what I wanted to do but I had managed to findexcuses and reasons as to why I could not follow my dream.I then did something I had never done before, I sat down and considered the very high risk of failure if I was to follow my dream to be a writer, speaker and coach.I then rationalized with myself what failure would look like for me by writing a For and Against List for Failure.Once I considered the list I realized that actually it would be okay if I failed as I have the control and I would be accountable for my own failure. Nobody else had control to decide what I could or could not do. Once I overcame my fear of failure I felt relieved and energized.

Managing the Risk of Failure

The other thing I did was look at all the things that I needed to put in place that would manage the financial disruption in my family’s life. What this meant was, I knew my husband would have to work longer and harder to make up the financial shortfall and for him to do this willingly I had to have a plan with a realistic time limit. This exercise provided me with the motivation to seek the help of 2 friends Matty & Menilik to create a12 month project plan to Reinvent Myself. We called this project plan “Kathryn’s 2014 Timeline for Success”.This plan is my journey of discovery toward living my dream to be a writer, speaker and coach. The 12 month plan has a short termvision, tasks and activities which I constantly refer to on the journey. Once I reach the end of my 12 month journey I will then consider what has worked, what hasn’t gone so well, what adjustments I need to make that will keep taking me toward my dream to be a writer, speaker and coach.

While I write this I am thinking this looks so simple and may be you are thinking the same thing too? It is simple but yet it is challenging and so hard to do!! Note to self…… “I have to keep reminding myself to hold back from over analyzing everything as it only complicates the process and makes the journey so much harder”

The Importance of a Plan

“If you don’t know where you are going,you’ll end up someplace else.”
Yogi Berra

Over the past 30 years plus I have had a number of some successful and some not successful attempts to define “what it was I really wanted to do with my life” but all these attempts really didn’t go anywhere – they were more like short bursts of activity where I got to do things I really enjoyed but then the opportunities to sustain the activity dried up. There are a number of reasons why this happened. Looking back on my life to when I first asked myself the question “what do I want to do with my life” I think that if I had learnt how to write my life vision even if it was for only three years (at 18 years old, three years was about as far in the future I could see then) I would have had some guidelines in place that MAY have helped me make more informed choices about the direction of my life. I am convinced that when you create a Life Vision Plan you set up the foundations for you to live a life where you have clarity and purpose about what you want to do. You can be at any age to write your Life Vision Plan and you can determine the activities and actions that you think will get you to your destination.

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Having being on this journey for six months now, I have three key learnings that I would like to share with you. These three key learnings have certainly helped me to get clarity and focus on what it is that I want to do in my life. By sharing these key learnings it may help you to address that “sense of loss and frustration” you have as a result of not knowing what it is you want to do in your life.

Three Key Learnings

1. Get very clear about your life purpose and then get a life vision plan.

“Having no plan “is like leaping off a precipice and trying to knit yourself a parachute on the way down.”

―Kelli Jae BaeliArmchair Detective

Get to know who you are, your strengths, your passions, what is important to you, your personality and what makes you happy because these are your guiding Life Principles – all the actions, tasks, activities that you set to achieve your life vision may change over time and may need adjustment however your Life Purpose doesn’t change because it describes who you are and your uniqueness in the world. If you are at university, or if you are in your midlife go find a way to determine what your Life Purpose is, because once you have done that then you can create your Life Vision Plan.

There is a technique to writing a Life Vision Plan called Visualization – which means you visualize the future of what you want and you write that vision as if you have achieved it. I used Ann Webb fromIdeal Life Visionto help me write my Life Vision and she was great. This solution may not be for you however go do your research and find a solution that you think will help you define your Life Purpose and your Life Vision Plan

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2. Embrace the challenge of personal change and the possibility of failurebecause if you do, your Resilience Flourishes

“Your gain strength,courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.You must do the thing you think you cannot do” – Eleanor Roosevelt

My 12 month Reinvention Plan for me is my map that guides me on my journey – without it I would be still wandering around in a dilemma wondering what I should do and making some not so great choices about what I want to do with my life. My plan even though it is an essential part of this journey I still had to take a look at myself to recognise what changes I had to make in order for me to Commit to going on this journey. As I said earlier, when I personally acknowledged that there was possibility of failure and that failure was actually okayI then was in control of my actions and the fear of failure disappeared. I still get anxious and fearful but it doesn’t last for long and I keep going.

Then next thing I had to do was deal with my self limiting beliefs because they are dangerous and could distract me or excuse me from having to deal with difficult situations or challenges. I am a Deflection Queen and so I am very susceptible to listening to what my limiting self beliefs tell me – ‘this is too hard for you, you really don’t deserve to be successful, go get a job and be safe knowing you have money coming in to pay the bills, all your friends are successful and have made good career decisions – why haven’t you?, what do you really have to offer to the world?, how can you make a difference? – this list goes on and in fact while I am writing this I am starting to get very annoyed with this list! About two months into my journey I decided to deal with my Limiting Self Beliefs by naming them “Dirty Harry” and then I named my Empowered Self Beliefs “Angel” who I now have got to know really well and without her I wouldn’t be here today writing this article.

As a result of changing the way I think about myself and my fears around failure my resilience to dealing with the many challenges this journey entails is much stronger. To discover what you want to do with your life for some people it happens very quickly and for others like me it does takes awhile for what ever reason however personal change and failure are part of the package and so get on with it, embrace change, deal with fear of failure, get your resilience to a flourishing level and I guarantee you will know what you want to do with your life and what you need to do to get there.

3. Get your Support Groups in place and Celebrate your Success with them as this gives you the energy, the desire and motivation to keep going.

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“The problem is that most people focus on their failures rather than their successes.But the truth is that most people have many more successes than failures.”Jack Canfield

I love celebrations and my personality type loves being in the limelight. The key to celebrating your successes is having people to share your celebrations with. This is where having your support groups such as friends, family, colleagues, the barista at your local cafe, your kids, around you to join in your celebrations is essential. Your support groups provide the energy for you to keep going, they encourage you and are committed to your success – what ever it is that you decide to do. Your commitment to them is, that you need to share your life purpose and your life vision with them – let them know what it is you want to do with your life;

  • Why you want to do……. (Your Life Purpose)
  • What your plan is to get there ( Your Life Vision)
  • How you are going to implement (Your Action Plan)

Once your supporters are clear about what it is you want to do with your life and what you are doing about it, then they will promote you, celebrate with you and keep encouraging you to achieve your vision of what it is that you want to do with your life.

I don’t know exactly where I will be at on December 31, 2014 in regard to living my dream life however one thing I know, is that I gave it a go and in the words of Andrew Carnegie I have set my goal, I am going for it and that has certainly made me happy.

“If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy, and inspires your hopes”

Andrew Carnegie

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Kathryn Sandford

Career Resilience Coach passionate about supporting others to grow and thrive in a complex world.

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Last Updated on August 19, 2019

How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

We live in a world that constantly tells us what to do, how to act, what to be. Knowing how to be true to yourself and live the life you want can be a challenge.

When someone asks how we are, we assume that the person does not mean the question sincerely, for it would lead to an in depth conversation. So telling them that you are good or fine, even if you’re not, is the usual answer.

In an ideal world, we would stop and truly listen. We wouldn’t be afraid to be ourselves. Instead, when we answer about how we are doing, our mask, the persona we show the world, tightens. Sometimes even more so than it might have been before. Eventually, it becomes hard to take off, even when you’re alone.

Imagine a world where we asked how someone was doing and they really told us. Imagine a world where there were no masks, only transparency when we talked to one another.

If you want to live in a world that celebrates who you are, mistakes and all, take off the mask. It doesn’t mean you have to be positive or fine all the time.

According to a Danish psychologist, Svend Brinkman, we expect each other to be happy and fine every second, and we expect it of ourselves. And that “has a dark side.”[1] Positive psychology can have its perks but not at the expense at hiding how you truly feel in order to remain seemingly positive to others.

No one can feel positive all the time and yet, that is what our culture teaches us to embrace. We have to unlearn this. That said, telling others you are ‘“fine”’ all the time is actually detrimental to your wellbeing, because it stops you from being assertive, from being authentic or your truest self.

When you acknowledge a feeling, it leads you to the problem that’s causing that feeling; and once you identify the problem, you can find a solution to it. When you hide that feeling, you stuff it way down so no one can help you.You can’t even help yourself.

Feelings are there for one reason: to be felt. That doesn’t mean you have to act on that feeling. It just means that you start the process of problem solving so you can live the life you want.

1. Embrace Your Vulnerability

When you are your true self, you can better self-advocate or stand up for what you need. Your self-expression matters, and you should value your voice. It’s okay to need things, it’s okay to speak up, and it’s okay not to be okay.

Telling someone you are simply “fine” when you are not, does your story and your journey a great disservice. Being true to yourself entails embracing all aspects of your existence.

When you bring your whole self to the table, there is nothing that you can’t beat. Here’re 7 benefits of being vulnerable you should learn.

Can you take off the mask? This is the toughest thing anyone can do. We have learned to wait until we are safe before we start to be authentic.

In relationships especially, this can be hard. Some people avoid vulnerability at any cost. And in our relationship with ourselves, we can look in the mirror and immediately put on the mask.

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It all starts with your story. You have been on your own unique journey. That journey has led you here, to the person you are today. You have to be unafraid, and embrace all aspects of that journey.

You should seek to thrive, not just survive. That means you do not have to compete or compare yourself with anyone.

Authenticity means you are enough. It’s enough to be who you are to get what you want.

What if for the first time ever, you were real? What if you said what you wanted to say, did what you wanted to do, and didn’t apologize for it?

You were assertive, forthcoming in your opinions or actions to stand for what is right for you, (rather than being passive or aggressive) in doing so. You didn’t let things get to you. You knew you had something special to offer.

That’s where we all should be.

So, answer me this:

How are you, really?

And know that no matter the answer, you should still be accepted.

Bravery is in the understanding that you still may not be accepted for your truth.

Bravery is knowing you matter even when others say that you do not.

Bravery is believing in yourself when all evidence counters doing so (i.e. past failures or losses)

Bravery is in being vulnerable while knowing vulnerability is a sign of strength.

It’s taking control.

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2. Choose Your Attitude in Adversity

You can take control of your destiny and live the life you want by being true to yourself. You can start anytime. You can start today.

You can start with one day at a time, just facing what happens that day. Most of us get overwhelmed when faced with the prospect of a big change. Even if the only thing we change is our attitude.

In one instant, you can become a different person with a change of attitude. When you take control of your attitude, you become able to better understand what is around you. This allows you to move forward.

Originally, you may have had a life plan. It could have started when you were little; you were hoping to become a mermaid, doctor, astronaut or all three when you grew up. You were hoping to be someone. You were hoping to be remembered.

You can still dream those dreams, but eventually reality sets in. Obstacles and struggles arise. You set on a different path when the last one didn’t work out. You think of all the “shoulds” in your life in living the life you want. You should be doing this…should be doing that…

Clayton Barbeau, psychologist, coined the term “shoulding yourself.’[2] When we are set on one path and find ourselves doing something different. It becomes all the things you should be doing rather than seeing the opportunities right in front of you.

But in all this disarray, did you lose sight of the real you?

It may be in our perceived failures and blunders that we lose sight of who we are, because we try to maintain position and status.

In being who we really are and achieving what we really want, we need to be resilient: How to Build Resilience to Face What Life Throws at You

It means that we do not see all possibilities of what might happen, but must trust ourselves to begin again, and continue to build the life we want. In the face of adversity, you must choose your attitude.

Can attitude overcome adversity? It certainly helps. While seeking to be true to yourself and live the life you want, you will have to face a fact:

Change will happen.

Whether that change is good or bad is unique to each person and their perspective.

You might have to start over, once, twice, a few times. It doesn’t mean that everything will be okay, but that you will be okay. What remains or should remain is the true you. When you’ve lost sight of that, you’ve lost sight of everything.

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And then, you rebuild. Moment after moment, day after day. We all have a choice, and in this moment, that matters.

You can choose to have a positive attitude, seeing the silver lining in each situation and, where there is none, the potential for one. Maybe that silver lining is you and what you will do with the situation. How will you use it for something good?

That’s how you can tap into yourself and your power. Sometimes it happens by accident, sometimes on purpose. It can happen when we aren’t even looking for it, or it can be your only focus. Everyone gets there differently.

You can rise, or you can remain. Your choice.

When the worst happens, you can rely on your authenticity to pull you through. That’s because Self Advocacy, speaking up to let others know what you need, is part of finding the real you.

There is nothing wrong with asking for help. Or sometimes, helping others can help us deal with the pain of a hurtful situation. You decide how you’re going to help others, and suddenly, you become your best self.

3. Do What Makes You Happy When No One’s Looking

Being the best version of you has nothing to do with your success or your status. It has everything to do with your Character, what you do when no one’s looking.

In order to create the life you want, you have to be the person you want to be. Faking it till you make it is just a way to white knuckle it through your journey. You have the fire inside of you to make things right, to put the pieces together, to live authentically. And Character is how you get there.

If you fall down and you help another up while you’re down there, it’s like you rise twice.

Along with attitude, your character is about the choices you make rather than what happens to you.

Yes, it’s about doing the right thing even when obstacles seem insurmountable.  It’s about using that mountain you’ve been given to show others it can be moved.  It’s about being unapologetically you, taking control, choosing your attitude in adversity and being the best version of you to create the life you want.

How do you know what you really want? Is it truly status or success?

Unfortunately, these things do not always bring happiness. And aspects of our image or “performance driven existence” may not achieve satisfaction. Materialism is part of our refusal to accept ourselves as enough. All the things we use to repress our true selves are about being enough.

“Enoughness” is what we truly seek, but ego gets in the way.

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Ego is the perception of self as outer worth. It’s not REAL self worth.

Ego represses our true self with a new self— the self of chasing ‘“Am I ever enough?”’ questions. And instead of filling our true selves with self-love and acceptance, when we “should ourselves” and chase “enoughness,” we feed the ego or our image.

It’s important to realize YOU ARE ENOUGH, without all the material trappings.

Stanford psychologist Meagan O’Reilly describes the damage of not thinking we are enough. One of her tactics for combating this is to complete the sentence,[3]

“If I believed I were already enough, I’d ____”

What would you do if you felt you were enough?

By believing you are enough, you can live the life you want.

So many fake it to try to get there, and they end up losing themselves when they lose more and more touch with their Authenticity.

Final Thoughts

By being yourself, you are being brave. By acknowledging all you can be, you tell the universe that you can until you believe it too. The steps are easy, and you are worth it. All of it is about the purpose you are leading and the passion that is your fuel.

Being true to yourself is all about mastering how to live life authentically rather than faking or forcing it. Having the life you want (and deserve) is about being trusting in yourself and the purpose you are living for. Both need passion behind it, fueling it each second, or you will experience burn out.

When you are authentic, you can call the road you walk your own. When you live your life for you and not just the results of all your actions (faking it till you make it), you can let go of what you don’t need. This clarifies and pushes purpose to you, living for something that is greater than you.

You will find that making decisions based on what will actually achieve your goals, will help you attain the life you want, and your success with each step, will allow you to enjoy the process. Good luck!

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Featured photo credit: Ariana Prestes via unsplash.com

Reference

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