Whether you’re a student, a recent graduate, or a 40-plus-hour-a-week veteran, by now you’ve likely noticed how quickly our precious free time can slip away. When you’re caught in the constant motion of everyday life, it can sometimes be difficult to take time to yourself and discover (or rediscover) who you truly are, and what motivates you. Living an authentic life is a success all on its own and sadly, it can sometimes feel that the world at large doesn’t value the personal journey towards the true self.
Happily, since this journey is a personal one, and one that is entirely unique from person to person, the only thing that really matters is that you value it. Living an authentic life means being yourself, believing in what you know is right for you, and taking actions that reflect who you really are, deep down. Make no mistake – this is a lifelong journey that is full of twists and turns, so enjoy the days and the moments while not worrying about the destination.
Before we get started, it’s worth mentioning that as you find your authentic self it will have a positive impact on your personal relationships, as well as your career. Often times people find it difficult to choose a path that is right for them, but if you’re living an authentic life, the path will become clear. Now then, let’s go over some strategies that will help you on your journey towards your true self.
What You Want and Don’t Need
Take note of people or activities that make you feel comfortable in your own shoes. When do you truly feel like you? The results of such an exercise can sometimes be surprising. For example, maybe you always thought of becoming a doctor in the future, but you find yourself most happy when you’re watching true crime with friends. One of the keys to a happy and successful life is taking what you’re passionate about and making a living out of it. Using the previous example, perhaps a career in forensics or law enforcement would be a better fit.
When it comes to the people you spend your time with, do they share the same values as you? When you’re with them, can you be yourself without hesitation or fear of rejection? When asking these questions, make sure you also consider which people and activities make you feel unhappy, or stifled. With this information, we can make adjustments to our lives and minimize the time spent on things that don’t help us move forward as a person, while prioritizing time spent with the people and activities that help us grow personally, as well as professionally.
In certain extreme cases, taking such inventory of our time spent may include eliminating the people and activities that are toxic or unhealthy. If there’s someone in your circle that is overly judgmental and constantly negative, it might be time to pull away and create some distance from them. The same goes for a working environment that you feel is toxic or unhealthy to you, but we’ll talk a bit more about that later.
Uphold Your Values
In time, we all build our own set of values. It’s important to understand that our values and the things that are important to us change over time, and that’s okay. We just want to make sure that these changes are positive and enhance our experience, rather than halting or slowing our progress in life. Try to imagine the experience of life as a piece of flowing liquid that can adapt and change to fit the circumstances around it, while also maintaining its individual integrity.
When you have a strong set of values that you are actively upholding, you’ll never feel the need to change yourself to meet the requirements of any other person or situation. Of course, this is all within reason, as if your core values are lighting off firecrackers and blowing off air horns indoors, you may want to reassess yourself. Living by your values will allow you to express yourself as intended, and will leave little question as to the type of person you are to outsiders.
Communicate Your Truth
This one goes nicely alongside upholding our values. Building confidence takes time and experience, and it is of the utmost importance when engaging in useful or productive communication. It can be far too easy to retreat into passive aggressiveness, sarcasm, or even dishonesty when we’re feeling unsure of ourselves, so be mindful if you feel yourself going down any of those paths.
Always keep in mind that your opinions and values do matter, even if you encounter people who try to tell you otherwise. This is why we want to make sure we are surrounding ourselves with people who share similar values and help us be our true selves. When encountering someone who wants to put you down based on your opinions or values, simply walk away. Part of being your true self is maintaining your integrity and upholding your beliefs, while not escalating towards or engaging aggression.
Set personal boundaries for yourself, and listen to your inner voice. If you have a bad feeling about something, it’s probably for good reason. Likewise, if being around certain people or engaging in certain activities makes you feel great, that just means you’re being honest with yourself – this is our ultimate goal. Stay tuned for the next part, where we will share more strategies for your journey towards your authentic self.
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