There is so much pressure to know what you want and how you're going to get there. We're supposed to have some grand idea of the life that will pay the bills, be reliable, predictable and secure. And then, we're supposed to enjoy whatever that has turned out to be. How often does that actually work out? How often do you even know what you really want?
There's no simple secret recipe, but there is a way to make it easier and build your internal compass skills. To start, let's break it down a little and see if we can get closer to some clarity.
1. WHAT'S IMPORTANT TO ME?
What's really important to you? You could make this really simple and just start an inventory of your life. Try three columns; Important/Somewhat Important/Not Important.
You could start with things in your home like your pets, furniture, clothing, craft supplies, sports equipment, kitchen items... Then you could go through the people in your life. This sounds kind of harsh, but look at it in terms of who really makes your life awesome, who sucks the joy out of things, and who is nice to just have around. This is not a time for judgement, just a matter of fact inventory. Now try experiences. What activities, events, duties, responsibilities etc. contribute to your life, which ones definitely detract and which ones just have to get done and don't really factor. For example, I paint my own nails. I don't love it or dislike it, I just do it because I like how it looks. That's pretty neutral and I would put it on my Somewhat Important list.
I think you get the idea. Notice what patterns start to form. Check in and see what's surprising, how are you feeling as you do this, what really stands out for you? With just this in mind, what could you change? Do you notice anything that is missing? Make note of these observations.
2. WHAT ARE MY LIMITING BELIEFS?
What have you been told is the best thing for you to do? See if you can recall what teachers, parents, tv, or other influences imprinted on you that was a "safe bet, good choice, wise, best move, practical, obvious, proper, respectful, dutiful, easy, common sense, honourable, lucrative...". You get the idea. Now bring to mind all the things you were curious about but either dropped or never tried, did in secret or decided were "a waste of time, for losers, pathetic, boring, ridiculous, embarrassing, silly, nerdy, stupid, impractical, impossible, scary, dumb, expensive, technical, out there, weird, controversial, beyond your ability, complicated, not an option...".
Here's what I would do with this list; I'd say to myself "what have I not tried because I didn't want to come across as stupid?". I'd get a few hits from that and ask the same question but insert a different term like "what have I not tried because I thought it'd be too technical for me to understand?".
Once again, get curious about your responses. Don't judge them. See if any emotions come up. Notice if you feel regret, anger, resentment, shame, sad or whatever. These emotions can be a great indicator of something that's going on under the surface for you and can point to reasons why you are feeling stuck and frustrated.
3. HOW DO I AVOID TAKING RISKS?
Now I think you're ready to get in touch with that devil on your shoulder that reminds you how much you suck and all the reasons why you can't have and do what you really long for. We call this dude your saboteur. What's the best way to call your saboteur up to discover his/her evil ways? Dream, make plans or do something brave. When you get ready to try something new and grow beyond your set point, your saboteur gets ready to play. Game on! is the call of the saboteur. His/her favourite thing is to keep you in your corner, safe, scared, small and pathetic.
Ready to play? Think of something you'd love to do. Now write down what thoughts came to mind immediately after. If you can't think of anything, try these; quitting your job, starting your own business, travelling around the world, breaking up, moving to a tropical island paradise, singing in front of an audience, selling your artwork. You get the idea. Let's try one out, travelling around the world. First things that come up might be; "how will I afford it, who will take care of my dog, what about work, I only speak English and a little French how will I communicate, I can't take that much time off, who are you kidding, you could never pull that off, you're too shy, you'll get robbed and contract some strange disease, it's not safe, you'll be all alone, this is totally unrealistic, remember the last trip you went on and all the trouble you had, you have better things to do, what about the starving children, you are so selfish, you need to be fit to do that, you're too old, women are targets..."
What do you notice from that? I'm always amazed at how many reasons we can have to not do things. The good news is that we don't have to give our desires over to the fears and limitations. What we can do is learn from them. Here's what's true: there may be some danger involved, being in good health and fitness will make the journey easier and more enjoyable, plans will need to be made for the dog and my apartment, I could research job possibilities and ways of staying for free or volunteering as I go.
The bottom line is, if I listen to the voice of the saboteur...I'm not going anywhere. Going places is important to me and worth putting in the effort and taking some risks.
How often do you give in to this voice? Who does it sound like? What is the value in not dreaming or not following your dreams? How have you made safety, fitting in or being responsible more important than trying new things, having fun and expanding your life?
Let's put this all together and see what we can do with the information we've collected.
- lists of what's important/somewhat important/not important
- we have a better idea of our limiting beliefs
- we know how our saboteur tries to keep us safe/small
- we are more aware of our feelings and emotions, the origins of our beliefs and priorities and even what some of our dreams are
I love the idea of creating an Impossible List! You can also put things that are less out of your comfort zone. It doesn't matter. Create a list of things you're interested in doing, having and being. Make it as long as you can. You can add to it every day for a while to see what you can come up with. Make sure to add some things that seem completely bonkers, unrealistic and out of your reach.
5. ASK POWERFUL QUESTIONS.
This part is so exciting! You are actually making progress when you get to this point. Here we go. You can use these questions and you can make up your own. These are some of my favourites.
Am I living my best life?
Where am I playing small?
What have I decided is only possible for other people?
If I had no fear what would I do next?
What is magical about me?
Would choosing this bring me joy?
If I could change anything right now, what would it be?
Am I dreaming BIG enough?
How committed am I to living a great life?
What could work?
What do I need more information on?
Who could I ask?
What is one thing I could do today to get one step closer to my dream?
What else is possible that I've never even considered?
You getting excited yet? Something you want to avoid here is that you're not just going to your head for answers. That will only get you so far. You'll have better results if you also consult your heart and your gut. You might also find that if you ask a question and then do something mindless like cutting the grass or having a shower, ideas will start to flow on their own. This happens to me a lot when I'm driving or going for a walk. Try to have a safe and convenient way to record your thoughts because they tend to pop when you're least prepared.
I truly hope this was helpful for you.
My greatest desire is to see you succeed
in a way that matters most to you. You've spent enough of your life doing what's best in the eyes of others. Now it's time to follow your own sense of knowing. Who better to navigate your awesome life than you?
If you're curious about working with me, send me a message and we'll have a conversation to see if we're a good fit.
Darlene Tindall is a Transformational Life Coach, multi modality healer and teacher sewing the seeds of possibility far and wide. She is available in person or online for coaching, classes, private facilitation, energy work or yoga.