Live The Life You Want – Not The One You Have
Many of us live our lives “two-faced.” There is the life we want to live, and there’s the life we have.
A discrepancy exists between how we are in life and how we want to be. We can’t be our authentic selves all of the time if we don’t know who we are or who we want to be. Are you just going through the motions at work? Do you anticipate each weekend so you can do what you really want to do? This is the “Weekend Warrior Cycle” and it’s unfulfilling!
We’re all busy — too busy. When we start to think about how to change the cycle, we get sucked back in. Before you know it, it’s Sunday night and we’re preparing for the grind of the upcoming work week. We’re not fully present; we’re conflicted. Our wants are not aligning with our realities.
Look at the foreground of the train track image at the top of this blog. The rails appear parallel but they are actually off by one degree. As you continue to look at the picture and your eyes move down the rails, the track splits farther and farther apart.
“I was taught to think of the railroad tracks and how I have to keep them aligned to who I am. If they get too far off base, I have to make some changes. So that railroad track for me never got too far away. That’s the gap that we get ourselves into; we wake up going to work and doing what we really aren’t and being who we aren’t. We don’t like it or feel good about it. We’re not maximizing our potential.”
– Alan Burkhard
How wide is the gap between what you’re capable of doing and what you achieve? I challenge you to ask yourself why you have that gap?
We’re all capable of amazing and extraordinary things — that’s the truth. So, why do some of us feel stuck? Here’s my take: When we’re young, everything we do is encouraged and celebrated — walking, talking, first illustrations, participation in sports. We’re free spirits and confident in how we approach life – we aren’t afraid to color outside of the lines.
With time, we become familiar with the word “no.” People who love us tell us to walk instead of run, to avoid difficult paths so we don’t get hurt. We get accustomed to hearing negative comments. It’s not uncommon to hear people say that you can’t get a job if you’re not qualified or you can’t start a company because you don’t know what you’re doing — or the funding’s not in place. As we get older, we accept that risk is bad and change is difficult.
Learned limitations become self-imposed. Why not shake negativity and try? Why not go for it? Why not close the gap between how you’re living and what you want for yourself in life? As my pop says: “The only limitation is the mirror.”
As we get older, there is the tendency to succumb to peer pressure and model what we consider to be “normal.” We may stop taking risks. Not me. I adopted an “Opposite the Crowd” philosophy. When you stand alone and create value for others, people notice. Even if you fail and have to get back up a few times.
What’s key to living an “Opposite the Crowd” life is time spent defining who you are and how you want to live your life. What are your personal beliefs or values? Without understanding them, every new idea or shiny object will distract you and steer you away from what you truly want. Most of us know what we don’t like about our lives. That’s a start.
Dedicate time to yourself, then select an aspect of your life to target: relationships, spirituality, career, or lifestyle. Find a quiet place to focus and write.
Most of us struggle with the task. It’s easier to plan weddings and vacations than focus on ourselves and just do the work. Thoughts and ideas will come and you won’t always love your thoughts, but jot them down anyway. With time, you’ll get clear on what you want and who you are.
Repeat the process, with these prompts:
- What am I good at?
- What do I think about my life, my kids, my significant other, my friends?
- What are my values?
Ideas will come and you will define your personal value systems. Get to know yourself and keep the railroad tracks of your life parallel. To be the person you want to be in all of life’s roles, you have to spend time getting to know yourself first.
Until next time,
If you enjoyed this article, I recommend reading these past Outside Insights posts:
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