Living authentically is about knowing what matters to you and acting in congruence with your core values & beliefs. To know yourself means acknowledging both your strengths and weaknesses. It’s about being accountable for what you say and do. You can’t control everything, but you can choose how you react to it. You decide what you attach meaning and importance to, and what actions correspond with your life’s purpose. When you do this, you seize the power to create your dream life.
If you live a more authentic life, you can be honest about your feelings and invest your time in areas you feel are worthwhile. You will likely become less likely to fall into addictive behaviour and more likely to take the time you need for self-care. It can clarify your focus and ensure your goals are more easily within your reach.
It sounds great, right? But how do we do it?
Define your Values and Create your Mission Statement
This means looking inward at the essential aspects of yourself. To do this, you can take a moment to reflect and list, in order of importance, what matters to you. These are your values. These could be personal qualities like compassion and honesty or strong beliefs, such as the importance of spending time with your family. Mindtools have a great guide and a handy list to help you get started. Focus in on your top 3.
You know how companies have a mission statement that aligns the company to their values? Well you’re gonna make yours! You need to discover your why; your reason behind everything. If you were on your deathbed right now (a little morbid, I know!), what would matter to you? Would you have any regrets? How would you have liked to have lived your life?
After you have defined the values that guide your life and considered what really matters to you, you can create your mission statement. What do you want to achieve? Why do you want it? How will you get there? How will your values guide you?
Know your Strengths and Weaknesses
What is it that people compliment you on? What were you good at as a child? What areas of your life do you feel need improvement? Be honest with yourself and look at how you can level up in these areas. You could do a SWOT analysis on yourself. Mindtools have a great guide and worksheet for your personal SWOT analysis.
Face your fear of rejection
This part is about having the strength to truly be yourself and not care about how others perceive you. This part is super hard because it means making yourself vulnerable, in your relationships, in your education or at work.Abandon perfection, accept your flaws and embrace authenticity. Don’t keep putting important things off because you don’t know everything, or you feel you aren’t good enough.
Face your fear of rejection and dive into your passion. Sometimes the thing we are most scared of is the thing we need to do most. Outside of your comfort zone is the sweet spot!
Remember when you were little, when it was so easy to live in the moment and not feel guilty about it? As an adult, and especially as a woman with care obligations, it can sometimes feel that you are stealing time for yourself that should be spent on someone or something else. “I should be working, studying, cleaning, shopping caring…” Don’t feel guilty about investing time in doing something that’s just for you. Your ability to care for others will be strengthened.
Allow yourself to be spontaneous and do something you love, something physical or creative or just something that makes you belly laugh so hard that you’re dangerously close to wetting yourself!
The Practice of Letting Go
Consider which relationships or patterns of behaviour don’t support you and your mission statement, then be like Elsa and let them go. If there are people in your circle who don’t have your best interests at heart, don’t let them sabotage you and your growth, kick ‘em to the curb!
If you are exhibiting self-sabotaging behaviour, look at the limiting self-beliefs behind this behaviour and let them go. Write these beliefs down and discover which are genuinely your own. Do they come from a place of fear, insecurity or pessimism?Have you been conditioned, or led to believe this by others? If your thoughts are limiting you, change your internal monologue to one that serves you.
Practise Forgiveness and Gratitude
If you are holding on to hate or guilt, release it. It does you no good to hold on to the negativity, so forgive yourself and forgive others too. Forgiving those who’ve wronged you does not mean you excuse what they did, you are simply choosing how you feel about it and not allowing it to cause further damage in your life.
Practise gratitude daily. You can write down what you are grateful for and tell someone you appreciate them every single day! This gratitude and acceptance of what you have, rather than what you don’t have, will put you in a position of positivity and you will be more likely to seize opportunities and reach your goals. Use your gratitude journal and reflect on your personal growth. You can love the life you have now, while creating the one you aspire to have in the future.
No more Rear-View Mirror Syndrome
This one is about letting go of the past (letting go is a bit of a theme here, for sure!). Don’t obsess about the things that have happened, you have no control over the past and re-living it or getting upset about it is a waste of your time! That time can be better spent making the most of NOW and planning an even better TOMORROW. Just because something happened in the past, does not mean that it gets to dictate your future. Look forwards, not backwards and you will live a more authentic life.
Follow your Hunch
“My boss said he’s going to fire everyone with bad posture. I’ve got a hunch it might be me”. Ahem, bad jokes aside, part of being your authentic self means trusting your intuition and following your feelings. You know in your gut when a decision isn’t right, and you might try and justify it, but ultimately your body will give you clues when you have taken a wrong turn or if you are on the right track.