Living your ideal life

What does this mean?

It means doing what you want to do and what you feel is right rather than doing what is expected of you.

This expectation may have been set by others or by yourself.

Very often when we take our role in life very seriously, we take on the persona of what we think the position dictates; whether that’s a work or personal role.

An accountant or a solicitor may feel that they have to portray a serious demeanour. After all, everyone you meet is a potential client.

A mother may feel the need to be a shoulder for people to cry on all the time.

The oldest child, even in adulthood, may feel responsible for ensuring their siblings are OK.

Whatever your role, there will be a part to play.

To find that you are ‘staying in character’ even when you’re at a social event may come as quite a surprise to you.

You may not have noticed the gradual change but now find yourself ‘being’ what you do for a living. Or ‘being’ what is expected of you.

Think about that next time you’re out:

Are you acting a role or are you being truly yourself?

When I was practising as an accountant, I found myself doing this. I felt that certain actions would be ‘unprofessional’. I was very much acting a role that was at odds with the real me. I loved the work but my perception of other people’s perception of what I should be like, was how I acted. This would often creep over into how I acted in my personal life too.

I knew deep down that coaching was my real calling and it’s something I did part-time, but having made the decision a few years back to make coaching my ‘real job’, I am so much more happy and relaxed in life. I LOVE helping people to discover what would make them happy. I WANT to be the real me and to show this to people. I feel that if someone is going to trust me enough to go through all of their hopes and fears in life, that they need to see the real me in order to know if I’m the right fit for them.

Because of this, I AM the real me ALL of time.

The difference it's made to my life in living authentically and true to myself is amazing!

So how close to the real you is the persona that you live behind? It may be that you went into this type of work because it is close to the real you.

So think about why you started in the work that you do. Do the reasons still hold up as good enough to keep you there?

You may have started for any number of reasons: for the love for the job, because your friends were all taking that course at college and you didn’t want to be the odd one out, because your parents encouraged you along that route and you were too busy partying at the time to question it.

The job itself might not be the problem – you may love it.

It might be more about how it’s taking over your life.

Or maybe it is the job and it just isn’t giving you the joy and fulfilment that you had anticipated.

Whatever the situation you’re in, all is not lost.

The steps to an authentic life will be the same whether you still love your career or not.

Whichever one it is for you, the issue is that what you have become as a person, isn’t making you happy.

Which side of yourself don’t you like? The one when you’re at work, with your family? Friends? Clients?

There is likely to be quite a few different sides that you present to the world. This is quite natural and doesn’t mean that you’re being false. Acting differently in different circumstances is one way that we build rapport with others.

An example of this.

How you speak to a child of five will probably be different to how you would speak to a child of 15 or an adult of 50. We’re not necessarily ‘not being us’ but are adjusting the way that we present ourselves in order to be better understood on a deeper level than simply by the words that we’re using.

So how do you know when it’s gone too far and it’s not just building rapport but has become you putting on an act?

I would say that how you feel when engaging in that ‘persona’ is the biggest indication.

If you are living outside of what comes naturally to you, it will feel like hard work. In the extreme, you may find that you have physical symptoms such as sweating a lot when you’re neither hot nor nervous. You may get a head ache or a stomach ache if you stay in that persona for too long a period.

This can happen when you are working against the grain of your true self.

When you aren’t being authentic, it isn’t natural, and you will find it draining and hard work. The ideal that we are looking for is to be in a state where our life aligns itself with our natural way of being so that we float through life and enjoy the ride!

So how do we find this?

There seem to be many different definitions of what being authentic means, but to me, it means acting and presenting yourself in a way that feels natural to you and makes you feel good.

You will think and feel how you do, and not how you think you ought to.

What is being authentic?

What being authentic is for you won’t necessarily be set in stone from when you were young. Our characters, wants and desires will inevitably change over time. As you gain confidence and experience in life, so your aspirations, abilities, likes and needs will change.

The key to happiness is being true to what, and who, you want to be.

So, how do we go about being authentic or even knowing what our authentic self is?

It’s about self-awareness.

If this isn’t something that you’ve ever attempted to look at, a good place to start is with your values.

We will go into this in detail later.

Another way to get insight into yourself is by keeping a journal.

Again we’ll go into this in detail later but in order to be authentic, you need to know yourself. Keeping a journal will give you a lot of information on this topic.

So while we’re waiting for the results of your journaling, let’s take a closer look at your life and see what’s going on.

Think about your day to day life.

Where you live, where you work, the sort of work you do, your social life…..everything.

How does this measure up to your expectations?

And how do your expectations live up to your dreams?

You may find that you’re living the life that you thought you should be rather than the one that you’d like to be.

When I look back at my wedding, many moons ago, it is a great example of what I’m talking about here.

I did it because I felt that at 32 it was about time I got married. The chap I was with was great, but totally unsuitable for me. We were excellent buddies and had a real laugh but really not matched as life-long partners. I was even aware that we weren’t suited to be together at the time but it was the next logical step and so that’s what we did.

The wedding day itself was a very expensive staging of tradition, and meant nothing to me. A lovely day but it held none of the expected emotion for me. It was just a great party.

If I’d been aware of my authentic self and if I’d been the confident person that I am today, would I have gone ahead with it?

I doubt it.

What in your life would be different if you had the confidence and insight to change it?

If there is a big difference between what you truly want to be and what you are, there may be some work to do.

I hope that this has given you a taster of what’s in store and about how important it is to live an authentic life - how much happier and more content you could be if you were more true to yourself.

The smallest changes can make a difference.

So, let's move onto the Find Your Values section

When you are ready to start this exercise, click on the link.

I hope that you enjoy this process. The results can often surprise us!