Do you feel like you are living? I mean really living? That big fat life that you're grabbing with both hands whilst shouting 'hell yeah' -- running alongside every challenge that comes your way? Or do you feel like you're drifting? Ambling along in a fug of the daily grind? Getting up each morning feeling like you are simply existing day-to-day?
If you are the former, then high fives my friend, you're amongst those lucky people who have it all figured out, and if you don't, then it's likely that you're just enjoying the ride anyway. If you are in the latter camp then you, like a helluva a lot of people out there, may not be living the life you feel you really should be. Am I right in thinking that this feels pretty damn shitty most days? Nothing seems to go as it should do, and life generally feels like an uphill struggle most of the time. I just want you to know before we go on, that you are not alone.
When I start coaching with my clients, a phrase that comes up again and again is that people feel like they are not being a true version of themselves -- being authentic. The more I kept hearing it, the more I was becoming aware that this isn't an issue related to the few; it seems to be one of the biggest challenges that people face.
"To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all." -- Oscar Wilde
So, what is an 'authentic life'?
When people describe to me what they feel living an authentic life is; they define it by either re-connecting to something they feel they have lost, or a life which is one driven by purpose. This is music to my ears, not because I am some kind of cruel-hearted bitch, but simply because it means that I know they are in the right place for us to do some kick-ass work on getting them what they need.
One of the key missions of my work is to help people to connect to their 'why'. And by this I'm essentially talking about a reason for feeling validated, a reason for why we're on this earth, a reason for being - purpose.
I know myself when I'm not feeling true to myself, or the people I want to be working with -- I start feeling out of sorts, kind of icky and just 'not right', and I know that something needs adjusting.
Aligning to your values
Living an authentic life will mean different things to different people. Some people will say that authenticity is all about having a good job, living in a good part of town, being able to have dinner out somewhere nice each month and enough money in the bank to feel secure. On the flipside other people will define authenticity as freedom, choice and happiness; in whatever form that takes. The reason that it can be so decisive is that authenticity is linked to our values and belief system; those by which we set our moral compass towards and away from things we feel intuitively guided by.
"We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be." -- May Sarton
Finding what makes you feel good
So often we spend our lives doing the things we feel we 'should' be doing, rather than those which make us feel good. The problem with the word 'should' is that it belongs to an ideal which is outside of our control. It means that we look to conform to what other people do, or what we think they want us to do, rather than what we feel we want. Sound familiar? What if you could shake off these shackles and strike out on your own path?
Authenticity isn't just about finding happiness - as great as that would be - we have to be realistic that happiness 100% of the time is not sustainable. It also gives us a higer place from which to fall when the shit hits. Authenticity is more about doing something because it makes you feel good. It means you're better equipped with resilience to be able to deal with challenges you meet along your journey.
What's so good about being authentic anyway?
There may be some amongst you who are already feeling like it's too much of a big hill to climb to even start thinking about living authenticity; that life doesn't have to be so bloody worthy all the time -- and I agree to a certain extent -- but what if you could be so aligned to your values that life became an easier ride? What if you could smile more (inside and out), and enjoy feeling lighter? What if you felt validated for doing something that you love? What if you could live with that feeling that you want to jump out of bed each day to seize it - knowing that what you're doing is designed just for you? Like it's where you should be, rather than feeling like an outsider in your own life.
Living an authentic life is about feeling that you're on the right path, and that no matter what comes your way, you have the right to say 'yes' to the things you want, and 'no' to the things which don't serve you.
So, how do we go about living an authentic life? Well, it starts with a bit of naval gazing and contemplation. Below I've set out 10 questions designed to get you thinking about what is it that makes this life one hell of a ride for you.
1. What do you want?
This may seem a fairly innocuous question. However, when you start thinking about it it can seem like a concept too out of reach. To start, list out all the things in life which make you feel good -- those things which feel right, and all of those things that you've always really wanted to be, do or have, but haven't never really felt you could allow yourself. Go for it! This is a judgement-free zone.
2. What don't you want?
Once you get started on what you want it can be a bit of a roadrunner back peddle to a halt as that niggling voice creeps in. So, take the wind out of its sails by thinking about what you don't want as a result of changes you make, and things that you want to get rid of. I find this question just as important as the first, as it allows you to become crystal-clear about situations and kinds of people that don't serve you, and who (and what) you don't want to be around.
3. What lights you up?
I love this question because it allows you to really dream. What are the things which make you feel so happy you could fly? What do you love to do that when you're doing it time stands still and it's just you and being in the moment? What would you choose to do every day of your life - even if it meant that you would do it for free?
4. What makes you tick?
Take some time here to think about what it is that makes you uniquely you. Write down all of your qualities; those things which you think make you a kinda nice person. Look back into your life and find things which people have said that you're good at, and all the nice things that they may have said. Go on! Allow it. I know that most of us struggle with accepting the good things about ourselves for fear of appearing arrogant (to ourselves??!!), but in this there's nuggets of gold to help you find what you're good at, and where you can bring your strengths.
5. What's non-negotiable?
Another beautiful question. This is one where there's no compromise for you in living the life you truly deserve. Think about those things that you just can't do without; whether they're materialistic or part of the very fabric of your nature. This is where you ask the universe to treat you in the way that you want to be treated.
6. What are the stories you want to be telling your grandkids from your rocking chair?
Propel yourself forward in time when you are able to look back on this trip that has been your life. What are the stories you want to be telling about your life and what you've accomplished? What mark have you left on the world? What have been your biggest achievements? Where have you been? Who have you loved spending your time with? What have been your biggest experiences? What were the big lessons that have guided your way through?
7. Where do you love spending time?
Think about this in terms of where and what you love spending time doing the things that you love. Where, and with whom, could you spend endless hours - being inspired by your surroundings? Also think about where you don't enjoy being - if you're an outdoors person it's likely that the thought of being cooped up inside for 8 hours per day will leave you feeling claustrophobic.
8. What are the basics that you can't do without in life?
Bear with me on this one, but this is Hollywood disaster movie time, where we've experienced a world-busting apocalypse. In this film you are the hero out to start building a new world. What do you need? What can't you do without? Who is your side-kick? Who in your world can you not live without and why?
9. What would you be happy to give up?
There's been a number of stories bubbling in the press and on TV recently about people who've chosen to give away their businesses, or the things they've gained as a result of work they've done. They've given them away because they've realised that money and the shackles that have come with it aren't the things that make them happy. As a follow on from the question 8 above, think about the things that if you did have to give up, you would.
10. What would you do if you knew you couldn't fail?
The issue with us not going for what we want a lot of the time is the fear factor attached to making changes, and what's at stake if things don't work out. But what, just what, would you do if the idea of failure were not part of your decision-making process? Use this question to double back flip yourself over that fear barrier so that you can come up the other side with your hands aloft.
So, what next? What have you found out about yourself? What has surprised you? Where do you want to take this? It's all out there for you gorgeous one. It's for you to go out and get it! Remember I am always here to help you get started on that path.
How to Live a Life of Purpose & Passion is one of the modules making up part of the Up Coaching Make a Change Programme. You can keep up-to-date with news of the launch by signing up to be kept up-to-date
About Kate from Up Coaching
Best Life Designer Kate Taylor is a leading confidence, performance and empowerment life coach and Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) Practitioner. She's on a mission to save the world one gorgeous person helping each person to figure out their 'why' so they can live a life full-to-the-brim with purpose, happiness & passion. www.upcoaching.co.uk