How to Find Your Path and Follow It
This past weekend was hard. Feeling carved out and just completely over trying at life hard seemed to be on the agenda. I won’t get into details because, while I have no problem sharing my personal life, I do have to respect other’s personal lives. It can be so hard to think straight when the future you envisioned for yourself can go poof overnight. You’d think I’d be used to it because I’ve had to reinvent what my future would look like so many times. At one point I thought I would be an actress after doing theatre for almost 20 years, but the lifestyle brought out too much of my anxiety and I knew it wasn’t good for my mental health. Then I thought I would go into personal training, but my body had other thoughts when all of my chronic pain and health issues started 3 years ago.
Having your dreams crushed can be hard, but it can also be a beautiful time of reinvention even though it definitely doesn’t feel like it at the time. Every time I feel irreparably broken I think about Kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing broken ceramics with a special lacquer mixed with gold, silver or platinum. The fixed ceramics are so gorgeous I love them more than I could have ever loved the originals. Their breaks are what make them stand out amongst a sea of plateware that’s pristine, but unoriginal. So when I feel broken I like to think of myself as a broken plate that will end up lovelier than ever once I’ve healed. Healing isn’t about making those cracks disappear; it’s about becoming better than ever. Each heartbreak and each setback teaches you something. The universe can be your teacher if you let it.
I spent the whole weekend heartbroken, but decided to keep my previous plans and went to see my bestie out in Milwaukee. It’s amazing being around people who won’t judge you for crying during your entire visit to the history museum and listen to your drunken rants. Newsflash: I can’t finish a bottle of wine anymore. By the end of the weekend, although I was sad, I felt like I could stand on my own two feet again for the first time since I’d gotten sick. I felt like I could accomplish whatever I wanted. The caveat is that I needed to figure out WHAT I wanted. Easier said than done, am I right?
I had an idea in my head of what my future would look like so I kept waiting for each next step to fall in line before starting the next. I figured that I would be engaged at least and have a house before I went back to school for my masters. I wanted to be settled before I took the leap of faith to spend that kind of money. I put off visiting Ireland which I’ve wanted to do forever because I always figured there’d be a better time to do it financially and because I was too sick. Oh, silly Jen. If anyone should know life is short it’s me!
So today I took a huge step and applied for my masters in public health. Gulp. I have zero idea how I’m going to pay for it or where my health will be, but this is what I’ve wanted for awhile now and I’m done putting it off until my life is in the perfect place I imagined it being in. I don’t know if I’ll get in, but I do know I’m serious about making it happen one way or another. I also started looking at trips to Ireland on Groupon! I am nowhere near living my dream life, but I’m going to start trying!
So how do you figure out what your dream life looks like? Keep reading!
Use your imagination! Let go of where you are monetarily. Don’t let your current job or kids or any other obligations get into your head. Just let go of all of that for a second and take a deep breath. What do you imagine your best life looking like? Journal out what your perfect day would be regardless of your situation in life and use that to guide you. I sat doing this very same thing a few months ago and it helped me tremendously. Sure parts of it was was full of designer gowns and other fanciful things, but really stood out to me is that my dream day showed me running my own business and helping others. It can be an enlightening experience to see it all put on paper.
Meditate. I know, I know. I sound like a broken record, but meditation is pivotal for tuning out the rest of the world and getting back in touch with yourself and your own voice. It can be impossibly hard to hear your genuine voice above all the volume of the crowd. Check out my meditation posts right here and here. Sometimes taking away the distractions of tv, music, etc. can be uncomfortable, but once you become at home in the silence you can actually hear yourself think again!
Stop looking at other people’s lives. I see tons of glam people who are living lives that I find amazing. Does that mean they’re life is the right fit for me? Maybe or maybe not. In order to find out you can’t compare your life to someone else’s or turn green with envy. This is a continuation of the above suggestion where you need to slow your roll and be at peace with yourself. Finding your true path has a lot more to do with listening to your own voice and cutting out the external chitter chatter.
Do what scares you. Frequently what scares you is what you need to do the most. I was terrified of jumping out of a plane and skydiving, but those moments of free-falling gave me the strength to keep fighting my chronic pain. I always try and make sure that I’m doing what scares me so that I’m pushing myself out of my comfort zone and never letting anything control me. I’m terrified of going back to school, but I can’t let that stop me from where I know I’m meant to go. By constantly challenging myself to do what scares me I’m reminding myself that I am capable of anything I put my mind to.
Take chances! There’s no such thing as being a lucky person. Those “lucky” people are just the ones who took every chance that came there way and didn’t let failures stop them from standing back up again. It’s the people who take all the chances that are put in front of them that reap the most rewards because they’re putting themselves out there for success! Afraid you wont get into that school? Apply! Scared you won’t be able to do that yoga move? Try! Don’t think that the guy you like will say yes to your date proposal? Ask! Sure, you’re going to face some failures, but you can’t have successes without them.
Think about who you were as a child. Life coaches and psychologists often say that sometimes the way to find your most fulfilling future is to look at who you were as a child before society got their grubby little paws all over ya. When I was around four-years-old I was super outgoing and would invite strangers from the park to my birthday party (much to my mother’s dismay I’m sure). I would craft all the time and constantly wanted my mom to be the student to my teacher in my fake little classroom. I loved dressing up my barbies and making them fashionable and I loooooved reading as I got older. Throughout elementary school I started developing severe separation anxiety from my mother due to family issues going on that moved into the depression and anxiety that has followed me throughout my life. I became extremely shy and my joy for going to school to learn was now replaced with a desperate fear of my mother dying the second I was out of her presence.
Adulthood has been much kinder to me than childhood ever was as I slowly found my way to being more outgoing again and actually enjoying the getting to know you process of meeting new people. I’m crafting again and the happiness and energy that gives me has been life-changing. Hello Buddha Belly! My goal this year was to read 50 books to reignite my passion of reading and this girl is on book number 72 at the moment! I have never felt more fulfilled and at one with myself than when I decided to look at who I used to be and start trying to be true to my purer self.
Try it on for size. If you think you might like a new career path follow someone around for a day with that career. If you think you might want kids grab your sister’s kids and babysit for a week. If you have a hunch that something might be the right fit for you, but you aren’t quite sure then don’t sit around and mull it over! Get out there and try it on for size. You’ll never know if you just keep thinking about it.
Learn to say no. As the saying goes, you can do anything, but you can’t do everything. I am a perfectionist and I often try and be everything to everyone, but that is a lot of wasted energy. Once you figure out what you want to do you’re going to learn to have to say no to doing some things that will take you away from your path. So while you may want to help your second cousin once removed by babysitting her kids so that her and her hubby can have a night out it doesn’t mean you have to and if it is going to stress you out too much or take time away from something else that needs more attention then say no! You will never see me without my trusty Erin Condren Planner because not only are they super colorful, but they are also super customizable! There’s a ton of writing space and it’s a lifesaver for keeping me on top of my blog posts, appointments, work schedule, etc. In a girl boss world you need a boss planner too.
Find your gratitude. Just because you feel like the current path you’re on isn’t right for you doesn’t mean that certain parts aren’t or aren’t what you need right now. I am not passionate about my career, but I am extremely grateful for a steady job with a fantastic boss and a workplace that has invested in me. The healthcare doesn’t hurt either! I hate our old couch every day I see it, but it’s better than no couch and the pride that being able to save up for your dream couch brings is priceless. Finding things to be grateful for in your life at this very moment is so important because it helps you be patient enough to get where you want to go. Hurrying into choices will only lead you down many wrong paths.
Give up control. Past and future me listen up because this one’s for you. Stop trying to control everything. You can’t and it’s a waste of energy. In order to find your path and own it you have to stop trying to control the path and just walk it. If you don’t get the job you applied for don’t beat yourself up over every little reason you think you may have not gotten it. Something I learned from being in acting so long is that there are so many decisions that go into casting that all you can do it present your best self and hope you fit what they’re looking for. Put your best self forward and if that isn’t enough then this just wasn’t meant for you. Imagine all the extra energy you could have if you stopped worrying about things you can’t control!
These are the methods that I used to help get myself on my truth path to contentment and fulfillment and I hope they help you out too. Do you have any tips or tricks on finding your way through the weeds to your true purpose? Sound out below. I love hearing from all of you!
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