Guide to Living Life on Your Own Terms
I feel it. You are sick and tired of the status quo. You feel like there is more to life…You may not know exactly what you want, BUT you know you want something DIFFERENT.
I think it’s easy to sit back and life carry us along…and that might even be okay…for awhile. BUT you may not want just an okay life. You want to make a difference. Master a craft. Live outside the box (or live a life where there is no box). Work 8 months out of the year or 12 hours per week. You want to take risks (at least some). Rewild your heart. You want to break free of the mold and blaze your own way…true to you.
I’ve created this guide especially for you to start the shift from the inside out. I recommend reading through it completely and starting with whatever feels right. You may want to dive into one of the three practices. Or dabble in all three. There's no wrong way to use this guide.
1) Follow your curiosities.
It starts with following your curiosities. It is so simple. Start right now. Grab a notebook and brainstorm 20 things you’re curious about. Don’t filter. Just go. You can also add in events you’re interested in. People you’d love to meet. Aim for getting 20 down on the paper.
Now, take a step back. What are the themes? What are your top curiosities? How are you nourishing them?
Depending on the size, commitment and cost that may be required, commit to feeding at least 3 of these. And by feeding them, I don’t mean you have to do the fullest expression of your curiosity. If money or time are limited—get creative! Instead of a month-long yoga training in Bali, maybe get a new yoga book instead.
I don’t mean to diminish big dreams. Often things we think are impossible can become possible with a little finagling. BUT, for this exercise start with what you can actually do NOW.
2) Get on the “no train.”
Give yourself permission to say “no” to invitations, work projects, and favors that aren’t in your highest alignment. This may seem terrifying, especially if you’re someone who likes to keep busy. BUT, saying yes to things that don’t really feel good to us can weigh us down and clog up our time, energy, and bandwidth.
Here's an example: Over the past few years I have been very involved as a leader and volunteer at a local meditation center. Some dicey things were happening with the leadership at the center and my leadership responsibilities were being undermined. It wasn’t a healthy situation for me and I didn’t see a simple way to resolve the issues. I decided to resign from my leadership roles at the center. It was an incredibly painful decision and I was flooded with emotion and grief—I was losing friends, community, and an important spiritual teacher.
However, when I resigned I realized almost immediately how much of my emotional, mental, and creative bandwidth was going towards the meditation center. After leaving I had so much energy to put towards other things that weren’t a sinkhole for my time.
I share this story because we all have commitments and obligations that are sinkholes for our time/energy/bandwidth. Big or small, we need to pay attention to the decisions we make, and ask ourselves, “given what I value most, is this a good use of my time/energy/bandwidth?”
Essentially what we want to watch out for is “automatically” saying yes to things because we feel guilty, obligated, or afraid of being disliked. Start to notice how your body feels when someone asks you for a favor you may or may not want to do.
Questions for reflection: What activities, commitments, “obligations,” feel like a heavy weight on your shoulders? Is there a way you could delegate, share, reduce, or remove these things from your life?
3) Ask For What You Want
This is my favorite of the 3 game-changing practices. I think of times when I was with my friends and we would be discussing what restaurant we were going to go to. My tendency in my teens and early adulthood was to go restaurants other people wanted to go to. I would rarely speak my opinion, yet I would feel disappointed in the choice of restaurant. This is a very common and widespread habit that shows up in many women.
When I was in my first yoga teacher training with Shannon Paige, she would often say, “never be afraid to ask for what you want.” This was the first time I’d ever heard this kind of a message and it really stuck with me. How often was I keeping my needs/wants quiet because I was afraid of what others might think?
You can take “asking for what you want” deep and far. It can apply to work situations (asking for time off) to relationships (what do you need from the person right now).
One of the roots of being afraid of asking for what we want is feeling like on some level we don’t deserve it. “I’ll make do,” I might tell myself. Or, “I’ll find a way to make it work.” While this kind of self-talk can be beneficial, we might be setting our bar WAY too low for what we allow ourselves to have. This extends to and beyond money, relationships, emotional needs, career, health, and so many other things.
Now the other part of the practice of asking for what you want is letting go of the results. Easier said than done. Realize this: You can ask for anything. You can ask for a raise. A vacation. A high-five. But whatever happens isn’t up to us to control. However, asking for what you want makes the world bigger.
Questions to explore: What are 10 things in your life within short reach that you could ask for? What are 10 things in your life that you want that are further outside your comfort zone but feel exciting? Depending on how brave you feel ask for 1-3 things on either list this week!
Play with these three practices—try them on—see how they feel. Notice shifts. With anything I teach, I ask you to try the practices out. You get to experience first-hand whether or not a practice is helpful for you at this time or not.
Blessings on your journey!