When I asked my twenty-year-old daughter how she would define living her life well, she summed it up in four categories: traveling, happiness, family & friends, and money. I thought this was intriguing because we all have different ways of defining living a good life. No one answer is right or wrong. However, as I experience life, I understand its gift and how living it well is essential.
After my youngest daughter’s death, I knew life was more than smoke and mirrors. I began to understand that life has white, black, and gray areas. However, it is up to me to bring some iridescent colors to this journey, even when external circumstances feel heavy. So how can we unlock the joy, add some technicolor and wipe the fears away?
Below are three ways you can begin to unlock the door of living well and making every moment memorable.
Steps To Living Well
Let The Past Go. With a new year upon us we can be excited about the future, dwell in the present and know the past can be put to rest.
Elevate Your Experiences. It is important to put yourself in new places to meet new faces & do something that will heighten your life experiences.
Believe In Yourself. If you don’t have confidence in your own dreams and desires then you are hindering your own potential. When you believe in your ability to overcome challenges and face your fears you put yourself in a winning position.
If you don’t turn your life into a story, you just become a part of someone else’s story. ~Terry Pratchett~
Are you willing to live life the way you want or conform to society’s standards on how your life should be?
The above question is something I had to ask myself after I finished my military career. I knew I no longer cared to live my life by society’s metric of what is called “The American Dream,” but I wanted to live the life of my dreams. I knew doing things the conventional way would not work for me in the pursuit of living my dreams. So I had to learn how to create my own rules and break some rules to live my life on my own terms.
When we are born, we enter the world full of wonder, hopes, and aspirations, yet as we get older, we spend much of our time trying to live a life to please others. Young children have no shame in telling you who and what they want to be when they grow up. However, it is our adult cynicism that destroys our childlike imagination. Instead, we tell our children and ourselves “to be realistic” about their careers and life.
In reality, you are the protagonist (main character) in the story of your life, and it is your job to keep the storyline centered around your desires, dreams, and hopes. If you are not willing to build the life that fits you, other people will start to dictate what is best for your life. Overall, we should strive to live a life that we are proud of and exemplifies our genuine nature.
If you are ready and willing to live life on your own terms, understand it will be a life filled with unexpected adventures and moments. But I would rather live my life the way I wanted versus water down version of someone’s else idea of my life.
If you are ready to let go of the mediocre to jump into the extraordinary, then below, I have three simple ways to assist you in living life on your own terms.
Assess your values, priorities, and desires in your life in this present moment. (What do you really want your life to look like, and how do you want to feel?)
Align your values, priorities, and desires with your authentic nature. (Who do you want to be when you grow up?) (childlike mindset)
Action: Create some intentional action steps to plan the direction you need to start living your authentic life & begin to implement those steps.
Recently, I had to confront the idea of letting go of my old life to move forward to create a new life. When I look at the life I am currently living; I realize I am residing in a dream I have outgrown. A couple of years ago, I declared what I wanted and how I wanted to live without realizing that I am living my dream now.
Sometimes it is hard to let go of our old dreams because we have become stuck in a comfort zone. I have learned there is nothing extraordinary that grows within a comfort zone. Comfort zones are where fear, stagnancy, and unfulfillment reside because we begin to let the doubts infiltrate our minds like fungus on bread crust. And when the fungus starts to spread, it creates an infection.
As we voyage through life, we should constantly challenge ourselves to set new goals and dream new dreams. When we create new standards for our lives, we are daring to dream big, go higher and not settle for what appears to be comforting. Like I mentioned before, comfort zones are great, but nothing phenomenal will grow there.
To live a daring, phenomenal, and iconic life, you have to be willing to dream bigger and evolve higher. What old dream, old life are you ready to let go to create a new vision for your life?
Below are three concepts to help you develop your new vision for your life.
Make Peace With The Past. We often don’t want to move forward because we think our past or things in the past are better for us. But when you realize that your present and future life have more incredible moments, you will bide the past farewell.
Break up with your fears. Don’t allow your fears to stop you from living an extraordinary life.
Write down a new vision. Writing your dreams, ideas, or goals in a journal is a great way to hold yourself accountable to produce your extraordinary life.
After you have put one of these concepts in motion, I believe it will motivate you to dream bigger, raise the bar and never settle for a life that doesn’t set your soul on fire.
What does it mean to live your best life? And can you live an exciting life despite the fear & extreme circumstances like a pandemic?
In 2018, rapper and comedian Lil’ Duval coined the term “living your best life” from his song entitled “Smile (Livin’ My Best Life).” I believe it is possible to live your best life, no matter what. It is essential to clarify the experiences you desire, decide how you want to live, and intentionally execute your idea of “your best life.”
Recently, fear has become a dominant force that has steered us away from having faith and hope. Pandemic and political climate has caused people to feel anxiety, stress, and depression. The fear of uncertainty has crippled our ability to live in the now. But to live a fulfilling life, we have to be willing to give up the things that weigh us down. Living your best life is about embracing moving forward regardless of your present situations.
When I finished the military, I struggled with the idea of how I was going to thrive, making less money. However, I chose to find the silver lining in my circumstances and not allow my environment to dictate my outcome.
To live your best life, you have to be willing to do the following:
Make a choice. Get clear on what you want and make a decision even while feeling fear.
Get tunnel vision. Let go of the distractions & focus on your goals. If certain people, places, or experiences are not leading you in the direction of your dreams, then release them gracefully.
Move Forward. When you move forward, it helps you keep the momentum to find better solutions. As you move ahead, keep a Nemo mindset, keep swimming, and don’t stop.
How many times have you looked at your life and realize you are not living the life you desire? Did someone tell you that your dream was unattainable? Or did you let society dictate to you what was more important in your life?
When we are children, we believe we can be anything we desire to be in life. No matter how ridiculous our dreams may seem, as a child, we believe in our thoughts. As we shift into the teenage years, we start to let society dictate to us which journey will be profitable. We begin to focus on reality instead of the desire of our dreams.
The child inside of us starts to disappear because reality becomes more important than our childhood dreams. Our lives no longer hold enthusiasm or passion; instead, our adulthood has made us apathetic. We begin to forget about the vision we had to live a life full of wonder, passion, and excitement. Our dreams have become faint whispers needing a fresh breath. What can we do to resuscitate our passion for pursuing our dreams?
The first step to pursuing your dream is to reconnect with your childhood dreams. When I was young, I enjoyed writing, and I remember my Uncle Dave would always tell me I was going to be a famous writer. I remember in 2003 while living in Sicily, my love for writing reignited when I read Maya Angelou’s poem “Phenomenal Woman” for open mic night. Four years later, I published my first poetry book. The little girl on the inside of me reconnected back with my lifelong dream to become a writer. It was up to me to answer the call!
The second step is to write a list of the the things that stopped you from pursuing your dreams. After you recognize the roadblocks begin to write a list of possibilities of following your dreams. (For example: Roadblock: I stopped pursuing my dream of painting because I didn’t think I was a great artist. Possibility: I can start taking art classes at a local gallery to brush up on my artistic skills.)
The last step is to surround yourself around people who are living your dream. When you surround yourself around like-minded people you are building a community of support. When you have a support system it fosters a life filled with enjoyment, creativity and success.
So pursue the life you desire instead of burying your dreams. Dreams are meant to be lived out loud!!!
On a starry night I watch the clouds part easily, making a path for the moonlight that glistened upon my face. I thought about how dreamy and magical the moon danced across the sky. The moon was captivating all own its own. It did not need any special entrance because it did what it was supposed to do every night. I found myself thinking how the moon was not sacred to be itself among the other stars. In some crazy way, the moon knew how special it really was to the solar system because without it nighttime would not be the same. Just like the moon, we could learn that our dreams, purpose and passion in life have a specific role in the universe. When we defer our dreams we minimize who we are solely to become a figment of someone else imagination of what our life should embody. Many of us wanted to become someone great before we started to believe the lies about who we were not. We allowed the lies to shape our world so we became a stain glass, beautiful on the outside empty inside. The emptiness is due to the fear of living our dreams. For some of us it has become easier to live in a comfort zone than to defy the odds and explore the thing that sets our soul on fire.
I can fondly remember when I decided to leave the military lifestyle and venture out into the wild….the real world. I was uncomfortable because the military lifestyle had become a safety net. The military was a place where I had a support system and endless resources to accomplish my career goals. However, after nine years of serving in the US Navy I was no longer happy with the career path I chose to pursue. I knew I needed my personal freedom to do what I wanted to do on my own terms. So, I created my wings of bravery to live out my dream of being an author and writer. I cannot lie to you I was afraid, I failed plenty of times but I could no longer just exist.
You may wonder, did I allow failure to stop me? Well, to be honest for a moment the failure did stop me but then I wondered what I learned from my failure. I learned what success was and was not. It helped me become wiser, stronger and confident to try the journey again and again until I accomplished my purpose in life.
When we decide to not live our dream we hinder other people dreams. How so you might ask? Well, when we live our dreams in spite of the setbacks we give other people permission to live their dreams unafraid. We give them hope, inspiration and courage to do what they love no matter what other people think. In 2016, I challenge you to defy the odds and live your dreams no matter what happens. What do you have to lose? Nothing at all!