“I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.” ~ Stephen Covey
I used to be a zombie.
I don’t mean that I died and was brought back to life; I mean I used to live on autopilot. Diligently doing the right thing.
Following one opportunity to the next, onward and upward.
Until I found myself boxed into a cubicle, earning a six-figure income while my soul slowly died.
I didn’t even realize it. I just thought this was what people did.
Everyone around me was the same. They weren’t happy, but like me, they stayed because of the money and conditions. I didn’t grasp it at the time, but we were all taking the easy path. We were all bottling up our dreams, too scared to change.
We were all selling ourselves short and living our lives on autopilot.
Many of my previous colleagues still do. But not me.
For years, I’d ached to do something different. I envied those who made a living by helping others. But I thought that life hadn’t chosen me, that it wasn’t my path.
I didn’t comprehend that I was choosing my path every day. I didn’t realize that by not making a conscious choice to do something better, to be something better, I was following a path to unhappiness.
Every day you choose how you live your life, whether you’re conscious of it or not. And choosing to live an amazing life doesn’t have to be complicated.
Today I live more consciously. I’ve chosen a new path, and I’m working doggedly toward it.
I’m not there yet, but my life is already more amazing. I’m living out some of my dreams while working toward others.
I make choices that align with my values and goals, and I don’t settle for second best.
I’ve discovered five simple ways to make life more amazing.
1. Focus on connection, not perfection.
You have a lot of pressure on you to be perfect.
You try to live a perfectly healthy life, or be the perfect parent, the perfect employee, or the perfect partner.
I used to get up at 5:30 every morning so I could exercise, meditate, tidy up, and get to work early. I pushed aside quality time with my family so I could do it all.
All of that takes time and effort, and it doesn’t make you happier. It makes your life less enjoyable, and less amazing because it robs you of time you could have spent with the people you love.
I now sleep in a little, and I wake up when my kids climb into bed for a cuddle.
Life is more amazing when you focus less on perfection and more on connections. People and relationships bring us happiness and enrich our lives.
Stop listening to the little voice of should. The one that says you should be exercising or working more when you’re already putting in a good effort.
You need to spend time with your favorite people because time is limited, and relationships are the most important thing in the world.
2. Live by your values.
Do you ever feel like something is not quite right, but you can’t put your finger on what it is?
Maybe you’ve been for a job interview, and it seems good, but something is off. Or you’ve met someone new, and they seem nice, but something isn’t right. Something you can’t articulate.
Most of the time, that feeling is a flag that something is not in line with your values.
If you sit down and list your core values and then list the values of the person or thing that doesn’t seem to fit, you’ll see a mismatch.
That not quite right feeling is a signal that something needs to change. It’s a signal I didn’t listen to for a long time, and it led to problems.
When I took my high-paying job, I did so because the organization focused on helping people, and that’s what I wanted to do, too.
Over time, I realized that the way they helped people was not in line with my values. Writing and implementing policy did not satisfy me.
I want to write directly to people so I can inspire and motivate them.
I value connections with people, but the organization valued structure and governance. Had I realized this mismatch sooner, and acted on it, I would have been happier.
Living by your values gets you into flow. Everything becomes easier from there.