“Traveller, there is no path, the path must be forged as you walk” – Antonio Machado
I think the answer we all like to believe is ‘yes, of course i am’. It is so easy to carry on from day to day believing we are living our authentic life. But how do you know if you don’t ask the question?
Many of us try to figure out what we want in life by looking forward. We imagine a lifestyle and work backwards. We imagine that house, that partner, that dream job and then we start walking towards it ignoring everything along the way, just focusing on the end result. Just like a mindless journey (ever driven somewhere and not remembered any of the journey) we can also live a mindless life. Constantly moving forward without questioning where we ARE.
Would you rather start a really journey, going from place to place based on your enjoyment as you go, or head in one direction regardless and ignorant to every step you take?
The truth is you are changing every day, at least you could be if you gave yourself the chance. If you were absorbing your surroundings, your experiences and listening to yourself. You might learn you didn’t like something after all rather than doing it with only the end goal in sight.
When I felt completely lost and not sure of what i wanted to do I realised the problem was i was always imagining the end result. When changing track in my career i was advised by others in business to start ticking all the boxes, doing what everyone else does in that field in order to achieve it. But it felt so wrong. I felt so fake for me to feed into the same concepts, i just wanted to do my thing my way.
So instead of thinking about what i wanted in the end i thought about what i would enjoy everyday. I took some time out and simplified my life. I learnt that I love to learn and write about nutrition and mental health, that the state of the world and the environment kept me up at night and made everything else seem obsolete. I learnt Im happiest when Im in the countryside or by the sea and away from cities and cars. I learnt I actually prefer foraging for simple local wild food than i do searching the supermarket shelves for expensive ‘super foods’. I now know i love to run outside rather than go to the gym, I prefer Europe to long haul. I have accepted i love to drink wine without fearing i am ruining my ‘healthy image’. I avoid labels. I now only consider what I want to do next, listening to myself everyday for any changes in my heart and giving myself the time to figure out how I am truly feeling…Not how i want to feel. That way, regardless of how boring it may seem, i know i am being authentic. Trying to be who you wish you were as opposed to who truly are causes far too much anxiety but if you don’t question yourself how would you ever know?
How to know if you are living an authentic life?
Ask yourself these questions.I know, i know, your thinking I’m mad, these questions are simple! Go ahead, answer them. I find many people i work with still come back to me hours later having changed their answer. Once you ask these questions it opens a pandoras box of neglected desires. It takes a lot to dig deep and be honest with yourself regardless of social and governmental conditioning.
What is most important to you? -Getting a good job, living ethically, a loving relationship, having a family? Put them in order of importance
What do you want? To live abroad, have your own business, a baby? Put them in order of importance
What do you value? Sustainability, independence, family above all else?
What makes you happy? Painting, reading, cars, horses, surfing? A lot of people answer this question only to realise they hardly ever do the things they love.
What happens when you start being authentic?
I was trying so many different things, thinking from the outside in. When I stopped and started from the inside something shifted. I started doing only the things I loved and that truly made me happy.
I started to write about all i knew and had learnt about nutrition, mental health and life coaching. I spoke to people about it and made connections. I kept myself inspired and motivated by learning more. I lived every single day focusing on the small truths i knew about myself. I moved into a caravan in the middle of nowhere. I cut out expensive superfoods as much as i did processed and un ethical foods. As much as i cared about healthy living and ethical eating i equally was not convinced about the necessity of trendy superfoods, but had originally fed into it as it was part of my end goal. I let myself drink wine without worrying about it fitting in with my ‘healthy living image’. I made a point to spend a whole day reading, drinking coffee and not seeing anyone if thats what i felt like.
As a result of simply doing what i loved, I soon got asked to give presentations and talks, I was then asked to help with a training course in nutrition as well as being an in house nutritional therapist for a local company. I built a small local business selling sustainable seafood. My little seafood business got more attention, positive feedback and requests than my previous ventures. I sleep better. I don’t have anxiety. I couldn’t care less what other people think or say about me (although upsetting people, whether I’m right or wrong still doesn’t come easily). I love my small, authentic life that to many would seem boring. I believe so whole heartedly in the life I’m living that i couldn’t care less about what people think about it, whether they agree or ‘like’ it. I’m free from self doubt, regret anxiety or jealousy because I’m only doing what i truly believe in , so why would i compare that to what someone else wants?
If you live your passion everyday, you do so with intent and without doubt, its is then that other people see it in you and truly believe it. It is then that you get the dream job, partner, life you never knew you wanted. You will become resourceful when your goal come from the heart, regardless of your resources.
Start with your passion, workout what is really important to you, what actually makes you happy. Then start building your life around it. No matter which direction the answer takes you, it can only be right because your coming from an authentic place. I no longer and will never again create my life around an image i want to achieve but instead let my life go which way my passion takes it, embracing every singe step along the way because when you are living your authentic self there is no end destination, just a series of really enjoyable and memorable steps.