These four words sound so simple, yet they are quite loaded.
For most people, we subscribe to the notion that we should do certain things. We should go to that party. We should go to bed early. We should act a certain way.
My personal philosophy is to do what you want, not what you feel you should, do.
This doesn’t mean that we should go on a rampage and vandalize property because we feel like it. Nor am I implying that we shouldn’t’ pay our bills because we simply don’t want to. We must all follow the laws, treat others with respect, etc. The focus here is that our life’s path, the road we take, does not need to be pre-prescribed by others. Life is not meant to be one-size-fits-all.
I have observed many people follow very similar paths in life: go to college, meet someone, get married, have kids. I’m not suggesting that this is a bad path. In fact, it’s fantastic, if it’s what you want. I would like to believe that many of the people on this path are truly happy and fulfilled. But with the news of divorce, depression and suicide, it makes me wonder about our lifestyle choices. Why do so many people follow the same path? We’re all different so why wouldn’t we see more variation in the path’s we take? The answer is simple: fear.
Fear is the #1 thing preventing people from living their dream life.
But what are we really afraid of? Fear that someone won’t approve of our decision? Fear of not being financially stable? Fear of not being loved? Fear of failing? Fear of succeeding!?!? These are just some of the many fears preventing people from following their hearts.
Honestly, who really cares if someone doesn’t approve of your lifestyle choice. Is it really important that all 5,649 of your Facebook friends applaud your every move? And so what if you try to do something and don’t find success the first time around. You’re lying to yourself if you think it’s possible for anyone to find great success the first time.
I, for example, can’t find fulfillment in life following the path that society has prescribed for me. At least I can’t right now (ask me again in 10 years to see how I feel!). I don’t know many other (almost) 30 year olds who would pass up a promotion to teach English abroad with their husband.
Am I crazy? Maybe. Am I unrealistic? No. Why? Because I am living in alignment with my values. Not anyone elses. And that’s why I can honestly say that my off-the-beaten-path global lifestyle has led me to feelings of deep gratitude and fulfillment.
I’ve never been more fulfilled, motivated or productive in my life.
MY CHALLENGE TO YOU
Think about who you are and the path you’re on. If you find that you do not believe in what you are doing, start thinking about why you’re doing it. If you’re doing it for anyone other than yourself, you’re living a lie. Break the habit of living in a world of I shoulds and start living in the world of intentional decision-making.
If you’re ready to make a change, start by acknowledging that you’ll face opposition when you first make these critical lifestyle changes. Opposition is expected, so don’t be surprised. Just keep moving forward and remind yourself regularly why you’re making these changes.
Then visualize your dream life. What does it look like? How do you spend your time? Can you actually see yourself living that life? This is critical to staying motivated and focused. Without a clear vision you can’t expect to make any real progress.
After you’ve created your plan, calculate the cost. You’d be surprised to find that sometimes our ideal lifestyle doesn’t require more money, but rather a new way of looking at things.
Finally, implement your plan and enjoy!