Have you ever woken up and dreaded the day ahead? Or have you ever found yourself wondering why you are living the life you are living? I make no secret of the fact that I have been a bit lost over the past few years and have often felt a bit stuck or even scared to make a change. It’s not an easy situation to get out of but in two years I have dramatically changed my lifestyle and I am a few months away from making a big change in my life for the better. Developing and moving forward in life can be a challenge but it’s so essential to living your most authentic life full of joy and passion. Here are a few tips for identifying what you want in life, dealing with fear and how to keep focussed on realizing your dreams.
What makes you smile?
Without dwelling too long make a list of the first things that pop into your head that make you smile and feel alive. Eg events, hobbies, activities, people, moments, environments - anything. This allows us to focus on the positive aspects of our life and identify the things that make us feel good.
What is important to you?
I have been looking at life coaching exercises and thinking about what I want for the future. A powerful exercise to help you take stock is to write the numbers 1-10 down the side of a piece of paper and list the 10 most important things in your life in order of importance to you. It could be anything from family to gardening to equality to mental health. And then after you have listed them put a percentage of how much time you give to each one. This helps us to assess whether we are actually giving enough time to the things we feel are important. You may be surprised at how little time you give. If this is the case how can you change this? Can you let go of anything that is not serving you or that you don’t really feel passionately about to make time for something more important? Sometimes we can get a bit stuck in our lives and by assessing what’s important we can then identify where change needs to happen.
Take your free time and create a love affair with your passions.
After working out the things that are important to you in number 2, it’s time to work out how much time you actually have. So often I make excuses about how little time I have to practice yoga, see friends and family, do the house work etc. I see a business/life coach once a month and we sat down and worked out how much free time I have each week after I have been to work, slept, travelled to work and back, taught yoga, eaten three meals a day, showered and got myself ready and all those things that we have to do daily. Once we added this together we worked out that in a seven day week there are 168 hours in a week. Of that time I am spending 122 hours on essential day to day activity and sleep etc which leaves 46 hours spare per week. This is 184 hours per month to relax, have a love affair with my passions and generally put my energy in to what I want to do. When I worked this out I instantly felt a little bit lighter and more mindful about my time. Am I watching too much tv? Spending too much time on social media? Is that how I want to spend my extra hours per week? Probably not so now in my head I am clearer about what my time means and what I want to spend it on. This is pretty liberating and in just a few weeks of realising this I was already leading a more fulfilling life, practicing yoga more and spending time on important things which make me feel fulfilled and more alive. There is always time to have a love affair so make your passions a love affair that you snatch away time for. Trust me it is possible.
Make a vision board
I love this exercise mainly because I get to do cutting and sticking but also because it’s exciting to be so bold about what you want from life. Take a large piece of card or some flip chart paper and use it to illustrate your life in 10 years’ time. If 10 years seems too long then go for 5. You can cut out pictures, write words, draw, paint and be as creative as possible. Do you want a house? If so cut out a picture of the type of house you want. Do you want more money? Put a picture of some money on your board or a pot of gold. What job would you like to be doing? Do you have a partner? Do you have kids? What are your surroundings like? Do you want to be by the sea? Do you want love and good health? Finding pictures and words that symbolize these things will help to create a visual representation of the future you want and focus on what you need to do to get there. It also identifies what you want from life and what’s important to you. Be really bold – if you want to be running a huge successful business in an exotic land then put that on the board. Avoid settling for something smaller because you think that is more realistic or easier to attain. Anything can happen over the years. I created a vision board earlier in the year which contained a picture of a yoga retreat in a hot country. By September I was teaching on a retreat in Turkey. Committing your ideal life to a vision board is a powerful thing.
Write a personal mission statement
What is our purpose? How can we make a positive impact on the world? It is thought that the path to happiness is through serving others. Write down words that inspire you and connect with you eg educate, travel, equality, campaigning, lobbying, empowerment, nurture. Fill a whole sheet of paper with words. Then pick out 10 that you feel most strongly about. This will help you identify your values. Then write a few sentences about your personal mission in the world – What do you want to do? Who do you want to support? What is the result? What value will your service create?
Remember you have unique talents and there is a place in the world for you.
It can be a challenge to create a passionate and purposeful life. I often have wobbly moments and feel anxious about the future or what I am doing with my life. This usually happens when I compare myself to others. I now tell myself that I am a unique person on my own pathway. If you feel unsettled about your life or find it a challenge on your pathway then remember to show yourself some kindness. You have unique talents and there is a place in this world for you. Find what you feel passionately about and your purpose will follow.
Practice Yoga and Meditation
Yoga allows us to shine a light on our darker parts, to overcome challenges and to find some space and time out from our busy lives. We can learn to be mindful and calm in our approach to life. Our practice can support us through change or unsettling situations in our lives. Proceeding to live a more passionate life with purpose can be really scary when doing this involves changing how things already are. Yoga will allow you to nurture your mental and physical wellbeing making you stronger and more resilient to tackle any challenges that come with change.
Identify the limiting beliefs that you have and flip them.
What stories and outdated narratives do we tell ourselves? Do these serve us or hinder us? What stories would you like to tell? Let’s flip our limiting beliefs and let them go. Firstly identify the times you say or think “I can’t”. Make a note of the situation, record the context, who you said it to and what you were trying to avoid. Observe this exercise over two days – reflect on how this makes you feel. Now spend the next two days flipping those beliefs and stories. Go through each one and flip it to “I can”. Observe how this feels and each time you tell yourself “I can’t” change that thought to “I can”.
At the end of the day I like to think about all the things that have happened that day which I am grateful for. This could be as small as “I am grateful that my colleague made me a cup of tea today.” When things are tough I find this particularly helpful as there is always something to be positive about and by writing in a gratitude journal I can often look back and feel very content with the positive aspects of my life. Give it a go and observe how it makes you feel.
Keep practicing these exercises. The more we can evaluate the more opportunity there is for growth and moving forwards. So often we can get caught up in our thoughts, beliefs and fears and by objectively stepping back and evaluating our lives we can take positive steps to living a life of passion and purpose.
I will leave you with this quote which highlights this perfectly:
“Don’t worry about what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” ~Howard Thurman