On whose terms are you living life? By the time we’re adults, we are inundated with ideas on who we should be, what we should do, and how we should do it. Terms dictated by our communities and well-intentioned people. Growing up my mother told me I will be happy if I became a teacher. Then I could have two months’ holidays each year so I could be home with my children. She assumed I would have a husband, two children, the white picket fence, and everything that came with that.
I did get my teaching certification and taught for 5 years and hated it!
Given a choice, most people would choose to live life on their terms, whatever that means for them. The thing is, we do have a choice. What would your life look like if you called the shots? Maybe you already do. We all desire a happy life. The things we believe would make bring us greater fulfillment. In our relationships, our health, our wealth, and our careers. But what would it take to live life on your terms? Here are five steps to get you there.
1. Know exactly what those terms look like for you.
I have clients whose idea of the ideal life is golfing for six months a year in Florida. Much as I like golfing, doing it for six months or living in Florida would do nothing for me. No offense to anyone living in Florida, but the humidity and the hurricanes are a turn-off.
A dream life for one person may be a nightmare for another person. University students get into massive debt and spend years pursuing what appears like a potentially desirable career. Only to find out after landing that dream job that it is nothing like what they had thought, and they still have that outstanding debt.
What would it mean for you to live life on your terms? Would it mean getting a new job? Launching your online business? Completing your novel? Working remotely? Becoming an artist? Traveling and working abroad? Maybe your dream is to return to school and complete your degree? Maybe, it’s quitting school to pursue something that aligns with the essence of who you are.
When I ask people what they would do if they won the lottery, the common response is, “I’ll quit my job.” That still does not say what they want to do. Most of us have not contemplated what we truly desire out of life. We’re too busy making ends meet, working long hours, and trying to get ahead. But trying to get ahead for what? For most people, that just means working to pay bills while living from paycheck to paycheck.
We may have some idea of what makes us happy but lack a clear vision of what that entails? A colleague of mine enjoyed finance but dreaded selling, yet most of his role as a financial advisor involved selling investment products. He did quit the job a few years after getting into it.
2. Know why
Why do you want what you want? The reasons why will uncover your values and your motivations. Most of us want something because we believe it will improve our lives. But these could be based on expectations projected onto us. They could be based on what society values instead of what we value. We are constantly bombarded through the media about what we need in order to make us happy and for reasons that may not be aligned with us, personally.
Knowing why you desire something will shed light on what motivates you. Heading to the gym in order to look toned or lose weight will mean something different for someone who goes to the gym in order to stay healthy. Knowing why you want a particular lifestyle is essential to achieving that lifestyle. Once you know why you desire something then you can own it! It’s a step towards living in alignment.
3. Re-Write the Scripts
State your desired outcomes in positive statements. So, instead of saying, “I hate work,” say “I would prefer doing something more fulfilling with my life.” Feel the difference from one statement to the other.
“I would like to return to school to pursue art” sounds way better than, “I can’t stand my job.”
Be clear about what it is you do want, not what you don’t want. And state it with conviction. “I would like a job that allows me to pursue my leadership skills,” instead of “I hate my dead-end job.”
The more attention you give to a thought, the more your awareness of that thought grows. Focusing on negative thoughts and emotions causes you to notice things that only serve to reinforce negative thoughts and feelings. Going into something from a place of lack – not having it – just keeps that sense deeply entrenched.
Likewise, focusing on the outcome you want, draws your attention to those things that support your desire. Your subconscious mind will start to pick up on things in your environment that support that vision.
Unfortunately, it also explains why we repeat negative patterns in our lives. We pick the same partners. Put the weight back on that we lost. We go back to drinking soon after we’ve promised ourselves that it would be the last time we’d ever drink. Words, like thoughts, have power. Rescript your inner dialog.
Most of these are running through our subconscious. Increasing our awareness requires practicing mindfulness and quietening the mind to hear the scripts running through it. Meditation is one of the most effective ways to still the mind in order to hear yourself. Without the noise from the stories handed to you.
Walking in nature is another effective way to reduce chatter in your mind to hear your thoughts. We have to still our minds to become aware of our subconscious thoughts. Then we can start to challenge them. And replace what does not support our vision for our lives. Journalling is another way to shape your thoughts and beliefs.
Find what works for you and do it regularly.
4. Embody that way of being
Start by thinking about what you do want. On a daily basis. What you put your focus on has a way of multiplying. Go further by feeling the essence of actually having it.
If wealth is what you desire, then embody the essence of wealth. But how do you embody wealth if you have never had wealth? Start by asking yourself what it is about wealth that you are attracted to. The flexibility? Or is it financial security that you’re after? Maybe it is the luxury and extravagance that wealth can afford you?
If fulfilling work is what you desire, how would you feel if you did attract a fulfilling job? What specifically would you be engaged in to achieve this sense of fulfillment?
Change Your State
It is essential you embody the essence of the desired outcome. Your thoughts about your goals have to be infused with emotions. It’s feeling about something that has greater power than just thinking about it. Emotions are powerful! The brain then looks for evidence outside itself to confirm these thoughts and emotions.
Recall the times where your day “started on the wrong footing.” Where everything seemed to be going wrong. If you stopped the trajectory and changed how you felt about things, your day can literally change from something negative to something positive. It’s all about changing your emotional state.
The interesting thing is that feeling abundant is what brings abundance, Feeling loved brings love. When people say, “I’d be happy in a trailer if I had someone to love” I wonder if they really would be happy if they achieved that. If you say, you don’t need much to be happy then what’s stopping you from being happy now?
Question Your Beliefs
5. Take Action
If living life on your terms includes doing work you find fulfilling, then taking action towards that goal should emerge from within and align with your core values. It would “flow” with little resistance.
This took a few years. First, I had to uncover some of the beliefs that were limiting my ability to achieve my desired outcome. A belief that somehow not working at a nine to five job was irresponsible. The belief that it would be too much work to uproot. Too much effort to make new friends. Too risky financially etc.
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, please read my disclosure here.
Through one on one coaching, webinars, online courses, and public speaking, Jennifer empowers individuals and businesses to manifest the outcomes they desire. For a consultation, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
She has written numerous books on money: Women and Money: 7 Principles Every Woman Needs to Know to Be Financially Prepared in Any Economy and Growing Up With Money: Raising Financially Resilient Kids in an Age of Uncertainty.