“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.