5 Difficult Steps To Living A Life True To Yourself

I want to challenge you today with two critical questions.

“If I died today, what would I regret?”

And the follow-up question to that is:

“Am I doing those things right now, today?”

Because it would sure be a shame if we got to our death bed and had a long list of things we regretted not doing. Back in 2009, Bronnie Ware, a nurse who took care of patients in the last weeks of their lives before death, asked them about their greatest regrets or things they would have done differently given the chance. The #1 regret was this:

“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

But how can we live a life true to "me?" And not live for the praise of others?

Here are 5 ways we can take back control of our own lives and live true to ourselves

1. Don't be afraid to chase your dreams.

Listen, you only have one life. Why waste it by not pursuing what makes your heart sing? Don't let this one chance to live go to waste.

Start that business, travel the world, do crazy things, create the life you've always wanted to but were afraid of. 

Fear kills more dreams than failure ever will. Our doubt is greater than the reality of what we’re facing. So just do it, jump in. If you fail, that’s okay. Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn. Move on from the failure, learn from it, and try again. But regardless of what you do, don’t wait. Today is a good day to start.

2. Spend more time with the people you love.

The #2 regret on the list by Bronnie Ware was "I wish I hadn't worked as much." That ties into this point, that we need to spend more time with family, friends, and loved ones. And work sometimes gets in the way of that.

Here's a gentle reminder that work can wait. You'll never regret not spending more time in the office, or taking one more phone call, but you will regret not spending enough time with your children, your parents, your best friends. Those people are what life is about. Work exists so that we can have the freedom to spend more time with those people.

"Money comes and goes. Time just goes."

3. Do only the things that bring you joy.

So much of our lives are spent doing things that we think we should do, but don't actually enjoy. We spend the majority of our time performing to other people's expectations, instead of our own identity. We convince ourselves that faking it for others is "the right thing," but if we're not living true to our own person, our own sense of self and humanity, we can't be fully satisfied and happy.

A worry goal to have is to do less and less of the things others expect you to do - things that don't make you happy - and do more and more of the things that bring you joy and make your heart happy. If you can do that, you're well on your way to a truly meaningful life.

But in order to this, you must first know yourself, and what you enjoy, and don't enjoy. And that's the journey. Don't expect change overnight, but if you start working on getting to know yourself today, in a year, or 2, or 5 years, you will find yourself at a point where you are more in tune with yourself, your strengths, weakness, likes and dislikes.

4. Don't worry about what other people think about you (they're not).

You probably wouldn’t worry about what people think of you if you could know how seldom they do!
— Olin Miller

We worry so much about what others think about us, but the truth is, most people don't have that much time on their hands. They have their own problems, their own lives to live, and you and I aren't on their minds as much as we maybe think we are.

I had a very personal experience with this recently. There was a person in my life that I was striving to please, because I was worried about what this person was thinking about me. But through a humbling experience, I realized that I was worried about absolutely nothing. They weren't concerned with my life in the way that I thought they were, and this was both liberating and relieving to me, as it released the pressure off of me to perform (the pressure that I put on myself).

If you don’t live by the praise of men you won’t die by their criticism.
— Bill Johnson

5. Happiness is within you.

Never forget that happiness is a choice. The weather outside doesn't define your inside. Your circumstances don't define your attitude. 

There are a great many things in life we can't control, but our attitude is never one of them. And if you control your attitude, you can choose to be happy even when you don't feel like it.

Choose happy. It's the right choice.

So here’s my challenge to you: are you living the life that is true to yourself, or a life that you think others expect about you? Do the best that you can, with what you have, right where you are, because that's all that you can do.

So what’s holding you back from pursuing your dreams? Which of these points resonated with you the most? Let me know in the comments below, I'd love to have this conversation.

Practical Next Steps

Find a small way this week that you can "be yourself" more than usual. For example, I dress differently now than I used to, because I've learned what I enjoy wearing, and I have stopped wearing what I think other people will like. 

Just find one little way that you can be yourself, and then do that thing again the next time. And again.

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Remember, life is short, make it awesome.