I recently had a revelation that brought me a lot of joy and freedom...
When we're younger, we go through phases where we want to have or be whatever we're not. If we have straight hair, we want curly hair. If we have curly hair, we want straight hair. If we're short, we want to be tall. If we're tall, we want to be short.
But then a blissful shift happens when we decide to accept and embrace who we are, and all of the sudden, everything becomes easier. We stop worrying about trying to look like someone we're not and allow ourselves to be the best version of ourselves.
The breakthrough I had last week was this:
In the same way that we must learn to love ourselves to enjoy the richest life possible, we must learn to love our storyline.
So much angst in life is caused by thinking I'm too old, I should be further along in my career, in my family, in this or that achievement. Or, I'm too young, I shouldn't have all this responsibility yet, I'm missing out on my life, I'm not ready for this, everything is happening too fast.
The truth is that your unique storyline is just right for you.
Nothing is wrong when your life doesn't look exactly like someone else's. Quite the opposite is true: If your storyline looks exactly like someone or many someones, that's a bad sign that you're conforming yourself to a mold instead of allowing the beautiful, distinctness of who you are to come forth.
Why this matters in light of New Year's resolutions
This revelation holds special significance at this time of year when you're likely thinking about goals and plans for 2016.
If you want to have the happiest, best year possible, there are two areas where you need to let go: forcing your storyline and performance for love.
Letting go of forcing your storyline is at it's core about stopping trying to make your life look how you think it "should" be and allowing it to be what truly resonates with your truest self. Signs you're forcing include:
- Little to no progress
- Little to no desire to change-but feeling guilty about that lack of desire to change so you keep the resolution on the list
- Lack of satisfaction when you do what you think you "should do"
- Constantly feeling deprived, which leads to distracting yourself with unsatisfying pursuits
Letting go of forcing is a vulnerable act because you're releasing the sense of control you have from discrete, socially acceptable objectives. But that openness can allow beautiful things to emerge and help you discover your true self. If you haven't been achieving your goals in the past, this new, more humane perspective can in the end give you a greater sense of true control because you'll trust yourself to follow through.
Letting go of performance for love involves breaking out of the mentality that if I do this, or don't do this, then I'll be safe, then I'll be secure, then my parents will approve of me, then people will like me, then I can't be criticized, etc., etc.
If you're a high performer, this is an easy trap to fall into because on the surface, it seems to be an effective strategy. People tend to respond favorably when you act in a nice pleasant manner and make their lives easier. But the only way to have a deep down sense of love and belonging, is to give yourself the freedom to act in a manner that is congruent with your true self.
Sometimes that will mean being accommodating and other times it will mean choosing to do things that disappoint other people--not to hurt them but because you're making the right choice for you.
As you think about your new year, examine your goals, plans, and resolutions carefully.
Make sure that they are about being the most true version of yourself and unconditional self-love and self-acceptance and not about forcing your storyline or performing for love.
About Real Life E
Elizabeth Grace Saunders is the founder and CEO of Real Life E® a time coaching company that empowers individuals who feel guilty, overwhelmed and frustrated to feel peaceful, confident and accomplished. She is an expert on achieving more success with less stress. Real Life E® also encourages Christians to align themselves with God's heart through Divine Time Management.
McGraw Hill published her first book The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment: How to Achieve More Success with Less Stress. Harvard Business Review published her second book How to Invest Your Time Like Money. Elizabeth contributes to blogs like Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Fast Company and the 99U blog on productivity for creative professionals and has appeared on CBS, ABC, NBC, and Fox.