It’s like the outfit that just doesn’t feel right or the shoes that fit a little too tight. Despite what your friends say about how you look, deep down you know the clothes and shoes are not for you. So why do we buy them or worse still wear them. Life can be like this. We compromise what we want, live someone else’s expectations and squeeze our self esteem into some ill fitting role. All these examples are so much more than peer pressure or a lack of confidence to push back and assert yourself. They reflect a chronic failure of authenticity and this can open you up to all kinds of physical, emotional and psychological trouble. So how do you do the equivalent of a whole body scan to discover your ‘authenticity quotient’? Here are 4 questions you need to answer to see if you’re living your life or someone else’s.
- Do you often pretend to understand something when really you don’t
- Do you often do things you don’t want to so you don’t disappoint people
- Is there a big gap between the person you are right now and who you want to be
- Do you feel you’re wandering aimlessly through life
If you answered ‘yes’ to most of these questions you’re definitely not living like you mean it. You’re living a life designed to satisfy others, not one created to satisfy you. So how do you take control, ground yourself and live like you mean it? You become authentic and you become resilient. Here’s how you do it
- Ask Yourself. The first step is to ask yourself, “Who’s life am I living?”. Are you living out your parents expectations or a fantasy you had when you were younger. Just because you wanted to be an astronaut when you were 4 years old doesn’t mean you have to still have that as your dream occupation.
- Identify your Values. Values inspire us to take committed action and they also infuse our life with meaning and purpose. It’s important to distinguish our values from the goals we have in work or life. Goals are what I want to get or have. Values are how do I want to achieve my goals. When you think about living like you mean it what are your values? How do you want to behave? A good way to connect with what you really care about is to take the equivalent of a drivers ed. class. You’ve spent some time in the passenger seat of life now its time to get behind the wheel. What kind of driver will you be – cautious and careful or carefree and confident? How do you want your passengers to feel when they are in the car with you? These are your values.
- Act with Intention. To live like you mean it requires committed action. Which means you have to take that first tentative step – now. What could you do differently, or more or less of to start living an authentic life. Don’t try and boil the ocean. Commit to one small behavior and live it.