Alright gals, here’s the deal.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to happiness. “Happiness,” in itself, is totally and completely subjective and largely lies in the eye of the beholder.
Happiness and success- two of the most loaded words ever. Am I right?! What the hell does it even mean to actually be happy or successful? Is it determined by how much money we make? Our jobs?
Are happiness and success actually related? Maybe, but one thing is certain- we all deserve that same feeling (you know, that I-fucking-rocked-it or I-freaking-love-my-life kind of feeling).
Let’s change our perspective for a second. Perhaps a better word is “fulfillment.” Yes- it means something different to every.single.person, and there for sure isn’t one right path to take to get there.
Satisfaction, joy, or whatever you want to call it, it’s one of the most important feelings one can feel (and yes, I’m totally calling it a feeling versus a goal)!
(psssssssst… by the way, YOU deserve every little bit of that feeling, so grab a cup of coffee and soak it up)
So, how do we go about finding fulfillment, well-being or life satisfaction?
This might seem obvious, but it’s crazy to me how many people don’t think they deserve it- including me. For the longest time, I would literally avoid shit that I enjoyed (how crazy is that, right?!) and instead settle for something more stagnant… something that wouldn’t necessarily lead to anything beneficial. But you know what? Fuck that.
There are also the people that think they do deserve it, but for whatever reason- and this could be a flippin multitude of reasons- they don't go for it.
The 'pursuit of happiness' is NOT a destination. It’s a journey.
And it's not always a journey we can control. It might even be completely nonexistent, like a dream that will never come true.
MYTHS OF THE 'TRADITIONAL' LIFE
I have never been a fan of the “traditional” life path…. The whole go to college, find a husband, buy a house, have kids, make a lot of money. It's true that I went to college, have an amazing boyfriend and will likely buy a house sometime next year. BUT… we do NOT want kids, and marriage isn't a deal breaker for either of us. And let's be real…. I definitely don't make a lot of money. Not at all. The struggle is real.
I've never had any desire to have children, nor was I the girl who grew up dreaming about her perfect wedding, or becoming wealthy, or even having a “successful” career. I always knew I wanted to do something that I actually loved , rather than basing my career solely on how much money I would make.
I can't even tell you HOW MANY shocked looks I've gotten when asked WHEN we are going to have kids. People never expect the answer that I give…. That I actually don't want kids. It's seriously like they just saw a freakin ghost. Why? Because apparently, it's considered going against the grain. And you know what? I'm fine with that, and honestly, it's no one else's business to begin with.
BUT there is still that sense of overwhelming disapproval from others- not family or friends, but complete strangers who shouldn't give a shit anyway. The amount of judgment that comes my way is beyond ridiculous. Then the inevitable question comes, along with a look of either disgust or utter shock: “oh, hmmmm. WHY?!”
My response? Because I don't want to. I never have. Why the hell does it even matter?
It matters because I have to constantly explain myself to others. The “others” are almost mortified that I’ve said the unthinkable…. We don’t want kids. There’s nothing wrong with that, but stepping out of the normalcy of our culture is rarely well-received. We are apparently breaking the “American dream” by not wanting kids. So, that’s a thing.
There are totally exceptions to this rule, though. I’m certainly not saying this to be confrontational, because every single person ultimately has to choose their own path, and whether or not others agree with it shouldn’t be an obstacle- it should be a welcome challenge.
WHY IT MATTERS
Let’s be real… the end result of life should ideally be happiness. It’s the same destination for most people, but we all take different roads to get there. One size does not fit all.
There will be judgment, silent disapproval (or the really gutsy ones will just out right disapprove), people will question your decisions or tell you how to live your life.
But honestly, it's NOT their life to live. It's yours.
So fuck the haters.
Figuring out what YOU want to do with your life is what it’s all about.
You don’t want to live in someone else’s dream, so why should you?
This is something that I’m SUPER passionate about, and I wish there was an easy, step-by-step roadmap of how to figure this shit out, but there isn’t.
But hey, there ARE steps you can take to go deeper into figuring out what makes you truly happy and finding the strength to just go for it.
You can start by asking yourself the questions below. There is one trick to this- don’t think too much! Answer with the first thing that comes to mind.
Make sure to write your answers down! The point of this is to be able to reflect on these answers, and figure out how they fit into your life (or COULD fit if they don't yet fit)!
If money wasn’t an issue…..
Think about how your life would look if you could do whatever you wanted, without having to worry about money.
It's ok to dream BIG here, too! Don't limit this to what you think MIGHT be realistic- this is time to be as open as possible- open to new experiences, open to a new level of thinking, open to embracing where you are right now, but also honoring your journey.
- What would you be doing right now? Next month? Next year?
- What would you love to accomplish?
- Where would you live?
- What would your typical day look like?
- What would your life look like 12 months from now?
- Is there anything you’ve always wanted to try, but haven’t?
DISCOVER WHAT DRAINS YOU
Another side of this is determining what you don’t like. We all have something that drives us crazy, that leaves us feeling drained, or something that makes us feel stifled or restrained.
I totally don’t like being surrounded by a lot of people. Being a massive introvert, I do my best with small groups and intimate relationship, or recharging by having quality alone time.
I also really dislike (maybe hate) intentionally being put on the spot. Yep.
So, answer the following questions. Same as before, do it quickly without thinking too much about the answers. Be as detailed as possible- this will help with the next step!
- Have you ever had a relationship that you KNEW wasn’t right for you? What drew you to him/ her in the first place? What was it about that relationship that made you run the other way?
- What is something you struggle with? It could be money, confidence, motivation, or a challenge of any kind.
- Following the question above, WHY do you struggle with it? There’s always a reason, but it might not be obvious. Has it always been part of you, or did it begin after a certain event?
- What are some of your pet peeves?
- What type of environment makes you anxious or unproductive?
- Is there something you dread doing? Instead of stuff like every day chores, etc, think about... past jobs, going to sporting events (if that's not your thing.... but seriously, go GIANTS), and activities that might make you want to bang your head against a wall!
- What is your #1 fear? Is it a realistic, rational fear?
- IF (and that's a big IF) this passion thing doesn't pan out, seriously- what's the worst that can happen?
- What makes you feel super drained?
- Do you know what's holding you back from discovering your true passions?
- What's something in your life you wish you could change? Why?
Think about your answers to the questions. Does anything specific stand out? Did anything surprise you? Use the above list to help you figure out what you DON'T want- this gives even more clarity!
LEAN TOWARD NATURAL
You know that saying "don't try to be something you're not?"
Well, this applies MORE than ever when it comes to finding your passion and purpose.
Let's say I've recently wanted to become an all star athlete (I'm laughing out loud just thinking about it, lol!) but sports is NOT my thing, balance and agility is NOT my thing, I can't catch for shit, and I'll likely trip over my own two feet more often than not.
Would it be logical to go after that dream of being a wildly successful athlete? Noooooooooooooope (especially for me)!
That's a pretty extreme example, because anyone who knows me knows that I'm one of the clumsiest people you'll ever meet. And, well..... it's literally the last thing I'd ever consider doing!
Here are also some questions to help you figure out what you're naturally drawn to (or good at!)…. (again, answer quickly!)
- Would you rather be insanely happy and broke (but surviving), or hating life and rich?
- Think back to your childhood. What is one thing you loved doing as a kid?
- Who are some of your favorite characters (in movies, books, TV shows, etc)?
- What do you like about these characters/ personalities?
- What’s on your bucket list?
- What are some of your favorite colors? What do they represent for you?
- Who is your role model? Why?
- What makes you happy instantly? (If i'm in a shitty mood, DOGS make everything better)
- What motivates you?
- What are some of your strengths? DON'T BE SHY- if you're struggling to come up with something, ask someone close to you!
REVIEW AND REFLECT
Now that you've (hopefully) answered the questions above, it's time to process what they mean. If you don't reflect on these questions and your responses, then you're totally missing out on the best part, and doing yourself a major disservice!
Go through the three sets of questions above, and with each one, try to determine the following:
- Is there a general theme that jumps out?
- Did any of these responses surprise you?
- How can you do more of what you naturally love?
- It's impossible to avoid everything that drains you or breaks your energy, but how will you try to minimize them? Is there an area of your life where they're especially prominent?
While it's great to discover more of yourself and finally start to realize your true passions, that's only the beginning.
The real reward is when you start taking intentional action steps. These don't have to be crazy huge action steps- in fact, sometimes the smaller the better! The key is getting started.
Without knowledge action is useless and knowledge without action is futile. - Abu Bakr
Review the following section and determine what you can do in the near future to get even closer to living a life full of passion and purpose.
Figure out how to implement the above, and in a meaningful way.
For example- if something on my list is "I'd love to paint more."
Guess what? I'd schedule myself to PAINT. You have to make time for it and allow space for it.
If you know what you love doing, but you don't allow yourself to actually do it, there will be always be an incongruity between your ideal self and your true self. The more closely aligned the ideal and true selves are, the more likely you'll feel a sense of fulfillment and happiness.
If you feel like something is missing in your life, then chances are there IS something missing. You owe it to yourself to figure out what that missing piece is.
I’d love to hear from you! If you’ve had any struggles with this, let me know. If you have overcome something huge in your life, I’d love to know how you did it!