How To Find Your True North

Posted · 31 Comments

“I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart.  I am.  I am.  I am.” ~Sylvia Plath

Sometimes people get lost in their own lives. There’s no map and they don’t know how to follow their own internal compass. They don’t know which way is true North.

Maybe you’re one of them. Maybe you, too, have listened to parents, siblings, teachers, friends, and/or bullies ~ just to name a few ~ tell you who you are and believed it. Maybe you shared your dream only to have some misguided person say, “Oh, you’ll never be able to do that.” Maybe you followed the advice of some aptitude test or, worse, some school guidance counselor who barely knew you at all.

It begs the question: Why would you think someone else knows you better than you know yourself? So now it’s time to start listening to your own wants, needs, dreams, and desires. It’s time to ACT on them.

So how do I do that?

Okay, you say, but I’ve been listening to everybody else for so long, I’ve pushed away and stuffed and repressed and suppressed and now my internal compass needle looks haywire, kind of like it’s next to a magnet. I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing, you might say, I don’t know what my purpose in this life is. So what, you ask, do I do now?

Well, here are a couple of suggestions from a life coach that helped me:

  • EULOGY: Write your own eulogy because it will tell you what’s most important to you, what you want to be remembered for. Envision someone reading it at your funeral, where it’s too late to change anything because you’re in the casket. What are the most important things that you’d want people to know? What are the most important achievements that you’d want your legacy to be? Don’t dash something off and look at this like a homework assignment, really take the time to think about it. When I did this exercise, it took me two days of writing, thinking, making lists, crossing stuff off, rewriting. But honestly, this was the most helpful thing for me to clarify what it was that I wanted from my life. People sometimes act as if they have an infinite amount of time to get things done. You don’t. None of us do. This exercise forces you to choose the most important things. Once you know what those things are, then you can make goals and plans to start achieving them.
  • MISSION STATEMENT: Write yourself a mission statement for your own life. It should be short enough that you can remember it. It should encapsulate your goals and vision for what you want to accomplish. Then you’ll know in which direction you should be headed. Here’s mine: I write and sell quality novels that touch people’s lives.  Make it an active statement, as if you’re doing it now (not I want to or I will). Write it down, put it where you can see it every day, say it out loud (great place is a mirror, taped to the side, watch yourself saying it). I know this may sound goofy but it really does work, at least it did for me.

Let me tell you this, too. Once you start figuring out your true North, where your compass is actually pointing, sometimes it’s really easy to listen. Sometimes, that little voice inside you says things like hey, take this class or wow, go make friends with that person, and you smile and nod and say, “Okay!” Then you do or don’t do what it says.

But other times, it’s scary as heck. Sometimes, that little voice says things like quit your job or this isn’t the right relationship for you or you need to move across the country/around the globe. Those are the times you may dig in your heels and holler NO or throw a whining tantrum about how you don’t want to. I know, I’ve done it.

Why it matters

But know this, the only times in my life that I really got in trouble, really made some bad decisions that I later regretted, was when I chose to fly in the face of what my internal compass was telling me, when I let my head holler until I couldn’t hear that little voice at all.

Take a lesson from me: Don’t do that.

If you’re going to do the hard work of finding out who you are and what you were put on this planet to do, then don’t give up on yourself by not following through. Yes, sometimes it’s scary. Here’s my advice: Grab onto somebody’s hand, hold your breath for a bit if you have to, and do what your internal compass tells you to do.

And finally, here’s my opinion: if you do your eulogy and make your mission statement and you believe that you’re doing the thing that you are meant to be doing, the thing that you were put on this planet to do, then you MUST do it, which means that you keep going no matter what gets thrown at you, which means that you don’t quit. Ever.

Do you know which way is your true North? Please feel free to share your thoughts & experiences in the comment box below.

31 Responses to "How To Find Your True North"
  1. Loved this essay, Shelli. Every word resonates with me. Loved the idea of finding your “true North.”

    Your one line that speaks to my writer soul and reminds me why I’m up this morning: “I write and sell quality novels that touch people’s lives.” Yes,that is what I’m trying to do too. Thank you. Your words give me the courage to work on my new novel and not worry about who will want to read it or will anyone care about my story. Your words remind me that I must care..

    Take care,

    Kathleen

    • Hi Kathleen! *waves wildly* Thanks so much for the fab compliment. I’m glad to hear this post gave you courage. Makes me smile to hear that. 🙂 It’s so true that, above all, we must care about our story regardless of what other people may think of it. Cheers, darlin.

  2. Hi Shelli,

    Something tells me your compass has been pointing to True North most of the time 🙂

    Thank you for sharing more of your sage advice 🙂
    Keep up the good work,
    Rich

    • Hi Rich! Sadly, I wish that were true but it took a while for me to get my compass pointing in the right direction. Thanks for the compliment. Cheers to you!

  3. I love the ideas of the eulogy and mission statement. Thanks for the ideas for finding my true north. I love your blogs.

    • Hi Stephanie! *waves* Those 2 things were the most helpful in helping hone down what it is I wanted; hope they help you, too. Thanks for the fab compliment. Made me smile. 🙂

  4. Sandy Coelho says:

    Amen! 😀

  5. Sandy Coelho says:

    Hi Shelli *big grin
    I hope you had a wonderful weekend. I always look forward to your posts ?
    Take care 🙂

  6. Hmm. You and another blogger with the same name (only hers is Shelly) come up with the toughest challenges sometimes. I will definitely keep these suggestions in mind as I continue to stumble around playing Blind Man’s Bluff. 🙂

    • Hi Kristy! *waves wildly then runs up & gives you a hug* Yes, it’s a tough couple of things to do but absolutely worth your time. Cheers, darlin.

  7. *hugs back*

    Shh. My brain doesn’t want to hear that right now. Of course it’s still listening, balking at the thought of that much effort…and knowing it’s just going to have to suck it up and do these things one day soon. 🙂

  8. Dorothy Stacy says:

    Hi Shelli
    Thank you for your great advice. Your blogs are so helpful.
    BTW, I awarded your blog the Beautiful Blogger Award. Check out my wordpress blog, Writing By Candlelight, to see it.

    • Hi Dorothy! *waves* Thanks so much for the fab compliment. You made me smile today. 🙂 Thanks, too, for the award. I’m so honored. Cheers, darlin.

  9. Stacy says:

    I’ve only recently found your blog and I just wanted to tell you how inspiring your writing is. You write from a very pure place and I appreciate that! It’s so nice to read something positive!

    http://makingstacy.blogspot.com/

  10. Deeone Higgs says:

    Beautifully written piece here, Shelli. Loved it!

    At one point, you drove very close to home for me. You did this when you mentioned, how we followed the advice of others, and adopt beliefs about ourselves based on what others have said about us. I have had many of these types of experiences with most of the people in my life growing up – yep, even the guidance counselor. 😀

    I now know that each person that I thought were blocking or trying to break me at the time, were actually pushing me (most of them, unknowingly) in the direction of my destiny – and yes, they were also teaching me how to listen to my true north.

    Wonderful message, my friend. Thank you for the sharpening. 🙂

    • Hi Deeone! *waves wildly* I think sometimes the advice of others is fantastic, but not when it comes to the point of not listening to your own self. I agree, too, that sometimes misguided advice can help you find your true north (finding out what you don’t want to find out what you do want). Cheers my friend!

  11. Tom Harris says:

    So glad I read this post this morning, Shelli. I really needed to be reminded of this today. Without further ado, I’m off to work on my book – cheers for the nudge back onto my road, I’ve been heading south all morning! Thank you!

  12. What a fantastic and deeply touching post! As we get older, it’s so important to chuck the crap in our lives and find the real meaning of what we truly want. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the day-to-day things, things we think are so important. But when we take the time to focus on what’s real to our hearts, we find that peace we’re all looking for. Thanks for sharing this, Shelli, and reminding us all that we need to find our true selves–our true North. 🙂

    • Hi David! *waves* Thanks so much for the fab compliment. You are so right about how easy it is to get caught up in the day-to-day stuff and miss what really matters. 🙂

  13. Great post Shelli! Since I am a visual person, I made myself a collage and posted it on my fridge. It’s a letter sized piece of paper with various goals that I desire to accomplish. It’s a constant visual reminder of where I want to go in life and what is important to me. My friends have dubbed my fridge “magical” because, as strange as it may sound, my dreams are coming true.

    • Hi Narcisse! *waves* I love that you made a collage; what a fabulous reminder every day! I’m so glad to hear that your dreams are coming true. Makes me smile. 🙂 Cheers!

  14. Jhon says:

    Hi Shelli,

    Isn’t the internet wonderful? Now you can write an online article and watch people trickle in for years to come, taking the message you meant for them to take without having to visit you at home, or without having to “feel like they owe you something”. On the other hand, I love how mutually beneficial these posts are: each time someone reads you, regardless of where in the globe they hail from, you receive a tight, loving hug because you’re a wordsmith and a healer (awesome combination). We, in return, draw beautiful inspiration from a little virtual corner on the net. Because these places seem to be found when their statements make sense it tends to hit the spot each time. Pages like yours accentuate a notion on the subject of “now”: we, as a species, may not have come to a consensus yet, but it certainly feels like we’re on our way.

    Thanks for last year’s article, today! I hope you have a beautiful, book-worthy week, and receive a ton of positive thoughts from me.

    Jhon

    • Hi Jhon! *waves*

      Wow, thank you so much for taking the time to write such an amazing & lovely comment. You made my day today & I thank you for that. You know, I really love the internet for that same reason: I can find something that may help me today in my life & the author may have written it years ago.

      I love this so much, thank you for saying it: “you receive a tight, loving hug because you’re a wordsmith and a healer (awesome combination). We, in return, draw beautiful inspiration from a little virtual corner on the net.” It makes me happy to know that my posts are helping people. And you’re so right that every time someone reads or leaves a comment, I get a fabulous hug that spurs me along.

      Thank you too for the good wishes & positive thoughts. I’m sending them right back to you. *hugs* & a 🙂 for you.

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