Do you wish you were farther ahead in life than where you’re at now?
Recently, I spoke with a 25-year-old sales associate who, after learning I was a life coach, shared with me:
- “I need to get my life in order. I can’t believe I’m already 25 years old. When I look at the life some of my friends are living, I feel like I should be farther ahead than I am now.”
A couple months ago, during a life coaching consultation with a 34-year-old banking professional, this individual blurted out,
- “I’m 34 years old and I feel like I don’t have much to show for in my life. My friends seem happy and successful, and here I am not sure what I want anymore.”
Earlier this year, I sat down with a 49-year-old information technology manager who seemed at her wits end:
- “Next year I’ll be 50 years old. I don’t have any savings. I hate my job. How did I end up here? I feel like I wasted the last 30 years, and I won’t be able to retire.”
And just the other day, I met a 56-year-old accountant at a social event. After chatting a few minutes, he asked me,
- “Is it really possible for people to do work that they really enjoy? I don’t like what I do, but I don’t have a choice to do anything else. I can’t start over again, not at this age. I wish I had more time.”
Do you notice a pattern in each of these encounters?
No matter what age they may be, there’s a sense among many of the people I talk to that time is running out.
- “I should be farther ahead than I am now.”
- “I don’t have much to show for my life.”
- “I wish I had more time.”
At the heart of their struggles is their comparing the lack of progress they feel in their lives with other people who seem to be “more together.”
Or they find themselves competing with this idealized version of who they’re “supposed” to be and what they “should” have already achieved by this stage of life.
As these people can attest, this is a painful situation to be in.
If you find yourself in this situation where you’re feeling like you need to be farther ahead in your life than where you are now, first let me say, I feel for you.
And it’s not your fault.
Many of us have been taught that there’s a formula for living a successful and happy life:
Go to college, find a good-paying job, get married, start a family and, after a few decades, retire in the golden years, traveling to exotic destinations in the world.
The problem is that this formula doesn’t work for everyone. But people keep on trying to fit their lives into this pattern.
You see, the feeling that time is running out is based on this idea that you’re supposed to reach pre-determined milestones.
For example, you’re supposed to have children before you’re 30 years old. Or, you should have at least $350,000 in savings by the time you’re 50.
For many, these benchmarks of “success” are unattainable. And when you don’t reach these markers, you feel like you’re far behind and you wake up in the middle of the night wondering if you’ll ever catch up. Worse, your self-esteem starts to go way down.
The unfortunate thing is that when people find themselves in this predicament, many feel like they just have to toughen themselves up, stick it out, and get back on the hamster-wheel.
Some turn to coping mechanisms like alcohol or drugs to deal with the drudgery of life.
But there’s another way.
Rather than immediately coming up with a to-do list and strategy for how you can work harder in a job you hate, or turning to unhelpful behaviors to cope with a life that doesn’t resonate with you, I encourage you to stop for a moment.
Instead of trying to fit your life into this catch-all formula for living a “successful” life, what I’ve found works much better is figuring out what works for you.
If you could let go of any outside pressures, the key is defining what “success” means for you and not anyone else.
To help you with this, here are some questions that I use with my clients that get to the heart of what a joyous and meaningful life can look like for you:
- “What kind of life calls to your heart?”
- “How are you called to be of service and share your gifts with the world?”
- “Who do you have to become to live the life you imagine? How are you called to grow?”
- “What wants to be let go of and released in your life, in order to create space and allow this higher vision of your life to come forward?
- “What can you do regularly to nourish your mind, body, heart and soul?”
When you take the time to answer these questions truthfully and from your heart, you’ll most likely find that your responses are filled with depth, meaning, purpose and aliveness….because the answers are unique to you.
And what’s beautiful is that these questions can be asked at any age, whether you’re 18 years old or 80 years old.
When you answer for you and you alone, you elicit a truth of who you are, not who you think you’re supposed to be.
When you start to listen to your heart and you start to move in alignment with your heart’s calling, that’s when you realize there’s another way to live life outside of the cookie-cutter approach.
- Can you listen to the whispers of your own heart?
- What is your heart saying?
- What vision of your life and work is pulling you forward?
If there’s a spiritual lesson to take away from today’s post, it’s this:
You have your own path, and there’s no need or sense in comparing yourself to anyone else.
And if you’re willing to receive this, I offer this prayer for you:
May the whispers of your heart make themselves known to you, and may they guide you to a freer, fuller expression of the joy and light you already are.
A joyous and meaningful life is possible. Are you willing to live it?
Abundant Blessings and Namaste.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about today’s post. Please leave a comment below. Feel free to give some “claps” while you’re at it!
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Note: This article was originally published at www.AbundantGood.com.