If you’re like most busy, successful people, you have many great things going on in your life. And yet, you may still find yourself craving something more. More meaning, more balance, more time for the people and things you enjoy most. Success often comes at a steep price. As you invest more and more of your valuable time and energy into climbing the corporate ladder or building your business, you may wake up some day and feel like you’re living someone else’s life because your reality doesn’t reflect who YOU really are.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Success can be achieved and enjoyed in complete alignment with your values and your innermost needs – “authentic success” doesn’t require you to compromise. However, to live authentically requires effort.
In the age of technology, constant connectedness and communication overload, it’s increasingly difficult to slow down long enough to check in with yourself. With all the “noise”, opportunities for solitude and reflection don’t readily present themselves. Living authentically requires a conscious commitment to discovering and knowing the real you, and designing your life accordingly. Authentic success happens only through focus and intentionality.
Your authentic self is the source of your innate talents, skills, and wisdom. When you live authentically – that is, when you truly know, accept and value yourself – you are more complete, more available, and more present in your life. Decide to live more authentically starting today by taking one of the powerful steps below!
1. Eliminate excuses
If you want to achieve authentic success, the first step is to accept 100% responsibility for everything you experience in your life. This means taking responsibility for your results, your relationships, your health, your feelings, your finances – everything!
This is not easy. Modern psychology has conditioned most of us to place blame on someone or something outside of ourselves for any problematic aspects of our lives. We blame our parents, our spouse, our bosses, our friends, the economy, the weather – anything to avoid taking responsibility. But the truth is that there is only one person responsible for the quality of your life – that person is you.
To create the life of your dreams, you are going to have to take 100% responsibility for making it happen. This will require giving up your excuses, all the reasons why you can’t or why you haven’t up until now, and any blaming of outside circumstances.
If you’re not getting the results you want, ask yourself “How did I create that?” and “What do I need to do differently next time to get the result I want?” Assume the powerful mindset that you either create or allow everything that happens to you. See the difference in your results.
2. Know yourself
Who are you, really? What excites you, moves you, drives you? What makes you YOU?
Plato was on to something when he said “Know thyself.” One could spend years philosophizing about what he was getting at when he said this and why it’s important. But the bottom line is that when you truly know yourself – the good, the bad, and the ugly – and you value the good and decide what (if anything) you want to do about the bad, that’s power.
So…how to start?
Journaling can be a fantastic tool for getting to know yourself better. Write about your thoughts, your feelings, your dreams or just random musings. If you’re feeling stuck, write about feeling stuck until the juices start flowing! Writing things down can often crystallize things in a way that simply thinking about them can’t. Make journaling a regular habit to experience the full benefits.
Another way to get to know yourself on a deeper level is to sample some of the many tests and tools available for this purpose. Do you know your MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator)? Your DISC profile? Your Hartman color code? These are just a few examples of the many tools available – each of which will help uncover more layers of the real you (by helping you better understand your preferences, innate responses, etc.). As you learn more about yourself, you will have the ability to redesign aspects of your life to better support your needs.
3. Clarify your values
What are your values? A value is something that you intrinsically feel is important to you – whether it’s your faith, family, honesty, freedom, creativity or anything else that is significant to you. Values generally remain consistent throughout your life – they are a key part of your personal make-up.
When you experience a conflict or imbalance in your life, whether professional or personal, it’s often because your circumstances are not aligned with your values. Your values comprise the essence of who you are. Orienting your life around them will greatly enhance your ability to experience fulfillment and authentic success
To clarify your values, start with a list of values (can be found online) and narrow it down to the top 5-10 that most resonate with you. Or simply ask yourself the following questions: What values are most important to me? What are the character traits I deem essential? What are my most strongly held attitudes and beliefs?
Once you’ve clarified your values, begin using them to set goals and make decisions that are more closely aligned to your authentic self. Orienting your life around your values offers a perfect pathway to authenticity, wholeness and balance.
4. Live on purpose
What’s the “Why” behind everything you do? What are you here to accomplish? Are you clear about your life’s purpose?
Your purpose serves as a compass to guide you through life. A compelling statement of your life purpose should capture who you want to be (your character), what you want to do (contributions and achievements) and the values or principles upon which your being and doing are based. Being clear about your purpose helps you say “yes” to the opportunities you want to attract into your life, and “no” to anything that would detract from what you want to accomplish.
Without a clear purpose, it’s easy to just drift – the days, weeks, months and years passing by without much to show for them. When you have a clear purpose or mission, and you use it to guide your life, your actions have far greater meaning and direction. You notice things starting to fall into place. Living “on purpose” means living in that sweet spot where what you enjoy doing most intersects with what you do best – you benefit from an authentically meaningful, fulfilling life and the world benefits too because you are able to contribute and give back at a much higher level.
To begin to hone in on your purpose, make a list of the times you have felt most joyful and alive. What are the common elements of these experiences? Can you make a living doing these things? Is there an overall “theme”? If so, can you begin weaving more of this theme into your everyday life? Write down your purpose statement (“My purpose is to…”) and begin using it to drive your goals and actions. Make a habit of reading your purpose statement every morning to start your day off right!
5. Get your needs met
Let’s face it – when your needs consistently go unmet, it’s tough to keep going, let alone enjoy life! Personal needs are emotional, physical, mental, spiritual and environmental things you need to be your best. Do you have a need to be acknowledged, to be respected, or to be loved? Is that need being met thoroughly and consistently?
Many people do not have their personal needs met, for a variety of reasons. Some don’t know what their needs actually are – they have a general idea or can sense that something’s missing, but it’s not clear enough to act on. Others may be in touch with their needs, but they aren’t comfortable or confident enough to acknowledge them or do something to get them met. Quite often, when people do get their needs met it’s only temporary – and then they’re back to square one. Whether we’re aware of them or not, unmet needs drive our motivations and actions.
The first step is to acknowledge that you do have needs and that getting them met is not optional – it’s essential. Next, identify your most important need. This is the need that really drives or motivates you – in how you approach life and interact with others and your environment. Is it to be heard? Is it freedom? Is it success? Is it harmony? As you narrow down your list, ask yourself: “If I had an unlimited amount of this, would it make my life incredibly perfect and allow me to function at my best almost all of the time?” If the answer is “yes”, you’re on the right track.
Identify 1-2 other top personal needs and then figure out how you can get them met, thoroughly and consistently. Enjoy the newfound vitality and creativity that comes when you are no longer wasting your energy on dealing with unmet needs!
6. Trust your intuition
Intuition is not something reserved for psychics or an elite few. Everyone has it and everyone has experienced it at some point or another. Have you ever been thinking about an old friend, and then the phone rings and it’s that very person on the other line who just called to say they were thinking about you? We’ve all experienced this kind of intuition. The trick is to learn how to tap into it at will to achieve greater levels of success.
Are you in touch with your intuition? Do you trust it and act on it?
Intuition manifests itself in many ways. It may come as a hunch, a thought, or a voice you hear within. Or, it might be a word or phrase that keeps repeating in your consciousness. Intuition also speaks to us through our feelings and sometimes it’s just a sense of knowing.
Becoming more attuned to – and trusting – your intuition is a skill that can be developed and nurtured. If you feel out of touch with your inner voice, make time in your schedule to actively seek it out. Find a time and environment where you can totally relax and be open to your intuitive wisdom. If nature is your optimal setting for reflection and turning inward, take a hike to one of your favorite spots and sit by a stream or watch the clouds float by. If you find formal meditation enjoyable, create time for that in your schedule.
We each have our own preferred ways of getting in touch with our inner wisdom – find yours and seek out your intuition regularly. Pay attention to the insights and answers you receive and act on that information. You’ll find that the more you listen to and take action based upon your intuition, the more intuitive “hits” you will receive. And the more you trust your intuition, the more you will see the positive results of it in your life.
7. Be real
“Be real” seems like an obvious choice for a list of ways to become more authentic.
Despite being so obvious, however, this is where many of us falter. There is a tremendous amount of pretense and positioning in many people’s lives – whether they admit to it or not. So many people live their lives in a constant state of trying to impress, compensate or be someone they’re not. Others define themselves by their roles – such as mother, wife, boss, employee, professional – to such an extent that they lose themselves. Pretense and striving to be a certain way is exhausting. And success achieved under pretense, while it may be enjoyable for awhile, is ultimately fleeting because it’s based on something that’s not real.
Be totally honest about where you are right now in your life. Don’t pretend and don’t try to put an overly positive spin on things. It’s desirable to be a positive person – but avoid looking at life through rose-colored glasses. Enjoy being human and be accepting of others with all their faults and foibles. Know your strengths, weaknesses, capabilities and limits and be able to laugh at yourself. And while you’re laughing, maintain total responsibility for your weaknesses and less desirable tendencies. Never use “I’m only human” as an excuse – rather, choose a more success-oriented definition of being human as being fallible and yet capable of greatness.
Any one of these 7 steps can dramatically improve your life – and working your way through all of them will produce quantum leaps in your personal and professional fulfillment and success! Where would you like to start? Check in with yourself (listen to your intuition!) and choose at least one of these areas to focus on this week.
To your authentic success!
Guest post from Julie Fischer – Discovery Coaching
Julie Fischer is a professional Life Coach who partners with women professionals and entrepreneurs to optimize their success by becoming more authentic, purposeful and balanced.