Personal growth and development is the transition from experiencing life happening to you to experiencing a life created by you.
Living with intention requires the practice of paying attention.
Paying attention means that you are actively living your life on purpose. It means that every thought and every action, no matter how small, is a choice. This means that you can no longer pretend to be asleep, it means that you become conscious. What you eat, what you say, the habits you make - it is all done with awareness of the choice. This level of living requires the knowledge and awareness that you are 'at the helm' of your life, fully responsible for where you are and where you go.
One of the most powerful ways we can do this is by taking control of our time, and continually increasing moments that we are living our life on purpose. In a recent study commissioned by Marks and Spence, a whopping 96% of people surveyed reported that they were living their life on autopilot.
In my life, I use the terms “default self” and “intentional self”. My default self is the person that operates from her base stories, fears, and general unconsciousness. This is my “programmed” self, who lives by the rules and values defined by her family, peers, and culture. In contrast, my intentional self is the person that operates from her chosen stories, courage, and intentional consciousness. My "deliberate" self lives by her own rules, defined by her alone.
As a coach, I’ve worked with thousands of clients. When people begin working with me, I would say about 60 - 70% of them don’t yet know their intentional selves, and they are strictly living life as they have been pre-programmed to do. The other 30-40% know their intentional self, and are in the process of learning how to live a greater percentage of their life, and time, in alignment with that deliberate self. Here are some examples of how these two selves might show up in your life
Below you’ll find a free download that will allow you to do an audit on your time (and life). You can also download this worksheet as a Word Document or Google Doc.
Here is how to use this spreadsheet:
#1 – Fill in how you would LIKE to spend your time. Complete the chart from your intentional self, and design your time in alignment with your values, desires, and joys.
#2 - Track how you spend your time for a week or two. I suggest doing this at lunch, and again at nighttime before you go to bed so that you don’t forget what happened in your day. If you can track your activities in real-time during your day, even better. The more accurate your tracking is the more opportunity for insights and transformation.
#3 – Make necessary adjustments in your life.
I suggest doing this audit at least twice a year. I like to do it quarterly to keep myself on track, and assure that I am living the life that I want to live.
If you're interested in discovering your 'intentional self' and building habits and routines that support that self in being 'at the helm', schedule a free coaching consultation and let's discover if we're a good fit for working together.
Many people think of values as guidelines for living life or conducting business. Your values are what you believe are important in life. They serve as a filter for the decisions you make and the things you do. You can use values to set goals, make decisions, and live a more fulfilling life. When it comes to business, your values can guide you in choosing the right clients, suppliers, and partners. They can also help you build a positive company culture. Let’s take a closer look at why values are so important.
Why Values Are Important
Your values are important because they are a part of who you are. They shape your thoughts, emotions, and actions. You use them to make decisions about what is right and wrong, what is acceptable and unacceptable. When you live according to your values, you feel good about yourself and the things you do. You have a sense of purpose and direction. Values can also give you a sense of belonging and community. When you share your values with others, you develop relationships with like-minded people.
In business, your values can guide you in making decisions about the products or services you offer, the pricing of your products or services, how you treat your employees and customers, and other aspects of running a business. When you live by your values in business, you attract clients who share your values. This creates loyalty and repeat business. Your values also help you build lasting relationships with suppliers, vendors, and other partners.
How to Develop Your Values
If you’re not sure what your personal or professional values are, there are a few exercises you can do to develop them.
One exercise is to think about times when you’ve felt really good about yourself or what you’ve done. What were the circumstances? What did you do or say? What did others do or say? This will give you some clues about what might be important to you.
Another exercise is to imagine yourself 10 years from now looking back on your life or career. What would make you proud? What would make you happy? This will help you identify the areas of your life that are most important to you.
You can also take an inventory of the people who are important to you—family members, friends, co-workers—and think about the qualities they have that make them valuable to you. Do they have similar qualities? This can give you some insight into what qualities might be important to you as well.
List of Values
If you're still stuck, choose 10 words that resonate with you from the list below, then cut it down to 5, then cut it down to 3. This might be difficult - but go with your gut!
The Dangers of People Pleasing
We’ve all been people pleasers at one point or another in our lives. Whether it’s saying yes to an invitation we really don’t want to go to or going along with a friend’s bad idea, there are times when it’s easier to just go with the flow instead of standing up for ourselves. But what happens when people pleasing starts to impact our ability to achieve our goals?
The Dangers of People Pleasing
People pleasers often have trouble saying no. This can lead to us taking on too many commitments and stretching ourselves too thin. When we’re constantly trying to please others, we don’t have the time or energy to focus on our own needs and wants. As a result, our own goals and dreams can start to fall by the wayside.
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It can be difficult to discern whether we are making a decision based on what we think or what we feel. In many cases, it is a combination of the two. However, there are some key differences between the two that can help us determine which is motivating our decision.
The mind is rational and logical. It processes information sequentially and analyzes pros and cons. The heart is emotional and compassionate. It allows us to empathize with others and make decisions based on our values.
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What If I Don't Have An Inner Voice?
There is a knowing inside each of us that goes by many different names - inner voice, inner wisdom, inner sage, inner coach, higher self, inner goddess, god-self, consciousness, alchemist, knower, intuition, and many others. Every single person is a spiritual being experiencing consciousness; therefore, every person has inner wisdom. However, because not all of us have an inner monologue, some of us don't experience it as a "voice", but rather as a feeling or a hunch.
Psychology professor Russell Hurlburt estimates that 30-50% of people have an inner monologue narrating their thoughts throughout the day. Hurlburt outlines the 5 main ways of thinking as:
If you're interested in more information on inner monologues, you can access some great articles here, here, here and here.
Rest assured, however, that regardless of how you hear your thoughts, having an inner wisdom that you can access to guide your life is universal to everyone.
You have the right -nay, the responsibility - to do, have, and be, exactly what you want. Your job in this lifetime is to do what’s best for you and your life, not what is best for everyone else. If you just read that and felt a rejection to that statement in your body, or you had a thought that had the word "selfish" in it, I encourage you to get really curious about yourself. If you feel a reaction to the idea of doing what is best for yourself instead of what is best for others, please read When Is It Okay To Be Selfish?
Here is the cold hard truth: if your energy is focused on pleasing those around you, or living by what "they" say is right/wrong or good/bad - you will never live into your full potential or happiness.
Believe me, I get it. I'm a recovering people pleaser myself, and I still struggle to recognize where and how it shows up in my life. Recovery from deeply programed ways of being is not something that you achieve once, it is something you cultivate as a life practice.
To me, the practice is cultivating empty spaces and a slow moving lifestyle so that I have the wherewithal to be present with my life and recognize when I'm operating from old wounds or belief systems. People pleasing doesn't often come up for me anymore... unless I allow myself to slip into not giving myself the things I need to nourish my body and soul. When I am unhealthy and unbalanced, my old programming resurfaces.
Below, I've shared an excise for bringing more awareness to where in your life you might have room to "clean out the cupboards", and shed things that aren't truly authentic to you. But, remember, the cornerstone of any personal growth and development or spiritual journey is self-care. (Click here to read the Basics of What You Need To Do a Personal Growth Journey.)
To bring clarity to where you are limiting yourself, do the following exercise. Remember - the more honest that you are with yourself, the more opportunity you have to transform your life!
Make a list of all the things you want, but have not taken action on because:
Every single human has a gap between where they are - and where they want to be. The size of this gap is created by lack of clarity, people pleasing, fear, or limiting beliefs. The first step to reducing the size of this gap is to discover how big this gap is, and what experiences are (currently) being lost to you because of this gap. You only get this one life - don't think for a single minute that you don't have the duty to make it exactly what you want it to be. You deserve to have every experience that you want want to have while you are in this human form on this beautiful planet.
The way that you want to look, the way that you want to love, the way that you want to play, the way that you want to work - it's all up to you. There are no limits.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines authenticity as: "true to one's own personality, spirit, or character". Psychology Today shares that "individuals considered authentic are those who strive to align their actions with their core values and beliefs with the hope of discovering, and then acting in sync with, their true selves".
Authenticity is determined by both the unveiling of the innate self as well as the choices people make throughout their lives. When these two things are in alignment, people report experiencing more joy and meaning in their lives. In fact, authenticity is known as the "bedrock of well-being". It is correlated with self-esteem, purpose, vitality, and the ability to set and accomplish goals. It is also linked to coping skills that allow individuals to navigate life challenges successfully.
The Unveiling of the Innate Self
The first step to leading an authentic life is doing the work to identify who you are at your core - or innate self. This innate self can be covered up by family, societal or cultural expectations. For many of us religion has played a role in creating belief systems that may, or may not, work for us any longer. The unveiling of the true self begins with removing all of the "shoulds" in your life. Some of these "shoulds" are so deeply ingrained in us, that we don't even realize that they are driving our lives and hiding who we really are (at times, even from ourselves). Removing these and discovering what is remaining is the first investigation. You have a natural, wise, innate self that knows what is best for you and knows all the answers for you in your life. When we uncover this self, it can begin to show up and lead your life.
The Sum of your Choices
The second step to leading an authentic life is to align your choices with your innate self. Let's be honest here - you are not your thoughts, your feelings or your intentions. When it all comes down to it, you are the sum of your choices. Developing the ability to courageously make choices in alignment with your authentic self allows you to experience feeling whole and complete. It also allows you to have the impact on your life, you work, or your family that you were born to have. Your innate self is unique for a purpose, and living in alignment with that truth is what begins to open all the doors in your life. This is where the magic happens.
Characteristics of Authenticity
Authentic people tend to have the ability to speak their mind gracefully, respond to internal expectations rather than external ones, and fulfill their unique passion and purpose. Authentic people know who they are and can stand firmly in their truth. They aren't threatened by failure and can admit their faults. They accept themselves and others, they have clarity on what they need and where they are going, and they have strong self-esteem.
The science is clear that leading an authentic life is linked with success and happiness. It takes time, it can be challenging, and it requires a commitment (to yourself). If you are interested in learning more, schedule a free consultation or sign up for my 16-week Authenticity Coaching package.
How to be Authentic
Living an authentic life is an ongoing pursuit and rewarding lifelong discovery. It can be challenging and requires commitment (to yourself). However, the benefits of authentic living are abundant and well worth your time. Here are just a few ideas to get started on the path to living authentically.
Take Out the Trash
Take some quiet time to yourself to reflect on what guides you and who you really are. Meditate, journal, draw, or just sit around and think. Identify any ideas or 'rules' that you've picked up that are not in alignment with your true self, or are no longer serving you. For example, some outdated beliefs might sound like:
Live By Your Values
Identify your values, and consult them every single time you have to make a choice. To identify your values, click here for some useful suggestions and worksheets. Once you have your values identified - consult them at every turn until this becomes your modus operandi.
Identify your 'Default Self' and your 'Intentional Self'
There is a you that happens by default, and there is a you that happens by choice, or intention. For example, the default self wants to have a few glasses of wine after a hard day. The intentional self chooses to exercise and talk with a close friend. Our default selves often choose what is easy, or what I like to call 'lower shelf' activities. Lower shelf activities are things like watching TV, playing video games, or scrolling on our phone. Our intentional self is the one that creates positive habits and has the discipline to make them routines. Authentic living requires that you are seated firmly in your intentional self.
Honest communication involves saying what you mean, while respecting the other person's needs and feelings. This takes emotional intelligence and good communication skills. This also means speaking your mind, and avoiding sarcasm, cryptic hints, or ad hominem attacks.
Develop Your EQ
When you live authentically, you consider other's needs and you to your best to treat them with courtesy and respect. In stressful situations, this means knowing how to control your emotions. Emotionally Intelligence (known as EQ or EI) is the ability to perceive, control and evaluate emotions. This is an important part of living authentically because it demonstrates that you have the inner strength to respect those around you, and it's a skill worth developing, as it will serve you well in all aspects of your life and career.
Mindy Amita Aisling