Do you ever wonder if a life path is lined out for you and whether you are following it?
It’s a question I am asking myself often. How do we make important decisions in our lives? What are the indicators that tell us when it’s time to change? What gives us the confidence to step into the unknown and take a new direction?
“For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” – Steve Jobs, Stanford Commencement Address.
To find out if you are on the right path, you have to listen to your life. It speaks to you every day. It gives you clear signals. You are either happy or you aren’t. You either feel alive or you don’t.
Still, it’s not that simple. Life is complex. We misread the signs, we get stuck in habits and we fall asleep at the wheel. We compromise our aliveness and convince ourselves that things are OK, that life could be much worse. It takes awareness and discipline to read the signs accurately and to be honest with oneself. Are you happy and is your life exciting? Do you have the connections you desire? Are you fulfilled with what you do? If not, it may be time for an adjustment.
One way of reading the signs is by paying attention to the amount of ease you have in your life: Are things magically falling into place – or do you experience hardship and pain?
One of my clients made the decision to paint, something she had wanted to do for years. She told me that once she had made up her mind, art just showed up everywhere: She found a discarded but well maintained easel next to the dumpster when taking out the trash, the colors she wanted to buy at the art store were on sale and one of her best friends called her to invite her to an art retreat that weekend. “It was weird,” she told me. “Almost as if the universe had been waiting for me to finally take action.”
Watch out for the clues in your own life. Be aware and listen. With practice your attention will sharpen and you’ll pick up on the signals pointing the way.
Life Path Exercise: Keep a journal and start to record the instances in your life that happen with complete ease. For example, traffic opening up when you are late for an appointment, your to-do list magically taking care of itself, a client calling to reschedule when you really needed a break, etc. Make it a habit to write these events down every day. You will be surprised how often your life simply wants to work out.
If you like, you can also put down the things that don’t go well. Those are clues that show up when you are heading in the wrong direction, when you need a break or have to slow down your pace.
As I am writing this, a lady walks into the coffee shop I am working at and sits down next to me. She pulls away the stool I have been using for my stuff and rests her feet on it. I am about to say “Excuse me, Lady, this is my chair,” when I notice that I am hungry and that it’s time to leave. Just another subtle way of life telling me to call it quits.
I am curious, how is your life speaking to you? Do you have a way of listening to certain signals? Feel free to share in the comment section below.
As always, thank you for reading,
Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszent
Photo Source: Aleksandra Boguslawska via Unsplash
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