We’ve all heard the old adage, “march the to beat of your own drum,” and it sounds lovely and empowering. But what if you have absolutely no idea what kind of drum you should be playing or what kind of beat it makes? Finding our own happiness and fulfillment in life is the ultimate goal for most of us. However, not only is it typically a long and hard road, it can feel impossible to know how to get there—or even where to start— if you have no idea what your ideal destination is.
Some very lucky people know exactly what they want, what they’re best suited for and what will ultimately give their life purpose. For the rest of us, it can be a little more tricky to discover. Some trial and error is usually needed and sometimes it may seem like the process of elimination is so long and discouraging that we may never discover what it is that we are meant for. There are a few different methods that can be applied, to help get us there a little faster:
Find Your You
There is no one else in the world quite like you. That makes you valuable to the rest of the world, just the way that you are. One of the best places to start is to find out what it is that makes you unique.
Having trouble answering number one? Are you already feeling frustrated and overwhelmed? That’s ok, it’s a completely normal side-effect to our overly-busy lives. Find a few minutes—somewhere, somehow— each and every day. Use that time to slow down and reconnect to yourself. Some people do this with meditation or yoga (buzz words on the wellness scene for a reason) while others find it helps more to take a walk. The big take away here is to remove distractions and use the time to tune into yourself.
*Editor’s Note: A great exercise (literally and figuratively) is to take a 15 minute walk, each day with no “assists” (like earbuds or a phone). Concentrate on the sights, smells and sounds that you encounter on your walk instead.
Get Confident & Change Your Story
Technically this is a two-step, but they go hand in hand. We create our own realities on a daily basis. Put simply, what we tell ourselves is true, is (at least to us). If you are constantly telling yourself that you cannot do something, will never do something, are not good enough, couldn’t be successful or that “it’s impossible”—then that’s exactly what you will get. Instead, use your unique attributes that you discovered in step one to fuel your own love affair with yourself. Once you’ve fallen back in love, you’ll begin to believe that you can do anything that you set your mind to. And you will, because it will be true.
Look for Patterns
Human beings are creatures of habit. We tend to repeat the same behaviors over and over again without even realizing it. If you take an objective look back at your life, what recurring themes will you discover? Are there situations that you always seem to find yourself in? Certain people that you seem to be drawn to? What of those has brought you joy versus pain? Once we can pinpoint the themes in our lives, we can begin to create new behaviors that lead us in a different direction.
Get It Out
Find an outlet, any outlet. Most people swear by keeping a journal as it can be very therapeutic to get all of your thoughts and feelings out of you and into somewhere safe, with no judgement. You’ll be surprised by what you can discover about yourself when you give yourself the unbridled space to do so.
You can find fear almost anywhere. One of the most commonly overlooked places are expectations and motivations. Sometimes we set our expectations high enough that we will never reach them, making it impossible for us to ever take any action. For example, have you ever found yourself saying something like, “I’ll try it when I’ve made x amount of money” or “When I can carve out a solid week, I’ll get started?” The motivations behind these expectations are not that we are pushing ourselves to be better, we are actually so afraid that we may fail, that we stop ourselves from ever getting started.
Here’s a radical idea, why not just get rid of expectations all together? What good have they really done for you anyways? Expectations are very tricky and often confused with standards. If you set standards for yourself, you can hold yourself accountable. Standards act as a barometer for our choices and actions. Expectations on the other hand, imply control of our environment or future. Once you stop expecting something (or someone, but that’s a whole ‘nother can of worms) to be or work a certain way, you can start to see it for what it truly is, make an honest assessment and either enjoy it….or move on.
While a complete life overhaul doesn’t happen in an instant and success in any endeavor is never guaranteed, you can never go wrong with getting to know yourself a little better. By taking small, manageable steps to truly understand ourselves, maybe a new road will emerge, one that we never even thought to look for in the first place.
*Interesting Fact: “March to beat of your own drum” is a highly modified quote from American poet, author and philosopher Henry David Thoreau. The actual quote is: “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”