What if that thing you are chasing is not going to bring you happiness?
Let’s find out what will
Yesterday, we talked about taking a pause to reflect. We also talked about the “no time” issue, which we agreed is just an excuse for being too scared to face hard emotions.
Let’s expand on how you can use this pause to find a path of your own.
But just before we do that, let’s get into a real reason why you might be struggling right now.
Does being a “good” parent, spouse, manager… make you happy?
The world has changed a lot over the last few decades. The social dynamics. The infrastructure. The technology. There is so much more freedom and choice out there.
There has been so much change. The good change. The sort of change that provides more opportunity for each of us to live our own path.
The problem is we were raised by a system that did not recognize this change. What they taught us in school is not that helpful.
They asked us to follow the rules. To follow the example. But who set the rules? Who was our example? People from another era. People who were limited with their choices.
Do you know how many clients of mine come with the same problem: “I feel like I’m living someone else’s life, but not mine”?
We try hard to live a good life. To be a good parent. A good son or daughter. A good manager. A good whatever. The social role that we were taught to fill.
And what “good” does it bring us?
The problem is not that we are trying to be good. But in defining what “good” means for each of us individually.
There is an alternative. Pretty much the only alternative. The solution is a journey of self-discovery and alignment. It consists of two key elements:
- self-discovery: finding out who you are and what’s important to you, and
- alignment: bringing your life in alignment with your values
Cal Newport calls it a Deep Life.
As simple as it seems, it’s an unchartered territory. It’s a unique path each of us has to find.
It requires curiosity.
It requires courage.
It requires dedicated time and effort. A pause and reflection, remember?
It requires you to get crystal clear on things that matter most — by creating a personal compass.
Imagine what it feels like when you have a personal compass
A personal compass is a list of your top core values and a list of your anti-values.
Your personal compass is a filter you can use to choose from the opportunities the world presents.
It is a magical tool that helps you in daily decisions or major life changes.
It’s not a panacea.
It will not prevent you from making all the mistakes. But it will prevent you from making some of them.
I have been using my personal compass for years now. Here’s my favorite story of how it works.
When I moved to Portugal, I learned about Camino de Santiago. It’s the pilgrimage thousands of people take every year from different points in Europe leading to Santiago de Compostela. People take Camino for a variety of reasons: e.g. to recover from a loss, to make a difficult life decision, to challenge themselves, or simply for a touristic experience.
I did not know exactly why I was drawn to it, but I knew I must do it. Two of my top values should have given me a hint. These are Daring (taking risks and adventures) and Influential (having an impact on people and events). The challenge I took provided the opportunity to live these values in a very intense way.
124 km over a 5-day span was both physically and emotionally exhausting. But I enjoyed every minute of it. And I shared every minute of it, inspiring people to make changes in their own lives.
When I came back, I was so energized and aligned that I was able to finalize and publish my first book. And now, when people ask me what helped me to finish the book, I’m pretty sure it was the Camino experience.
I want to finish with the question:
Do you feel like you live life on your own terms or you are trying to fill the social roles you’ve been assigned to?
Come back tomorrow to learn more about building your own personal compass.
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