How many times have you heard the words, “You should…” or “If I were you…”? Or what about the well-meaning advice that fell flat? The moments you were challenged to do something different, all the while knowing it wouldn’t work for you? How many times have you been pushed to ‘live your best life,’ but felt like you weren’t truly living on your own terms?
The truth is, this life is different for every single person. What worked well for someone might not work for you, and that’s okay. The journey is not about trying to shape or bend yourself to fit someone else’s thoughts or plans. It’s not about having this cookie-cutter existence to mold to the lifestyles around you.
And it’s definitely not about settling into something that doesn’t feel natural.
Living on your own terms is about being the ruler of your own life. It’s about smiling at the possibility, opening yourself up to new beginnings, and walking the path that feels right. It’s about empowering yourself to live not only for others in terms of spreading love, but perhaps even more importantly, living for yourself. And prioritizing what matters and what fills you.
Here’s what living on your own terms really means, and how to do it:
1. Let go of expectations.
Living on your own terms means abandoning every idea of what you’re ‘supposed’ to do or be. Sometimes the people in your life will encourage you to walk a certain road. Most of the time this is because they have your best interests in mind, but regardless, they are not you. Despite their best intent, they don’t understand the beating of your heart or what’s really calling your name.
Even though it might be difficult to challenge someone who loves you or to do something outside of the norm, at the end of the day, choosing to abandon what’s expected and write your own story will empower you. You have the pen. That means you are the the writer, the editor. Instead of letting people come in and erase or redraft your pages, accept that they won’t be perfect, but they’ll be yours. At the end of the day, that’s what matters.
2. Learn to listen to your heart before you consider the thoughts and perspectives of others.
Caring about other people is a beautiful thing. Listening to what they have to say, being open to advice, and trusting—those are important aspects of being human. However, you will lose your true self if you are forever putting the thoughts and perspectives of others before your own.
You have to listen to your heart. It knows the truth. Instead of looking for others to continually guide you, make your own choice. Go with who and what feels right. Believe that you know what’s best. You do.
3. Quiet the anxiousness and focus on the moment.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the magnitude of decision-making and what that looks like in your life, try to focus on a single moment at a time. Instead of looking ten steps in front of you, look at what’s going on right now. Quiet the fear and doubt and take your choices one step, one breath at a time.
4. Trust your gut.
What comes to you as a natural reaction to people, opportunities, or situations? Start to focus on that jolt, that shiver, that pounding, that peace. Your body and mind are powerful beyond measure. Those two parts of you will balance and show you the right choice.
5. Be willing to accept change as a natural progression.
If you’re forever standing still, you’re not growing. Though change can be scary, know that it’s a natural part and progression of being a human. Once you accept this process it will be easier to make choices that reflect where you are and want to be. Be open.
6. Ground yourself in the truth that you are human and bound to make mistakes.
Living on your own terms doesn’t mean you’ll have a perfect life. You’ll still mess up, fall down, and get frustrated, but at the end of the day you’re learning. Instead of beating yourself up for every failure, remind yourself that mistakes are human. And make them beautifully.
7. Remember that everything is both a blessing and lesson.
Everything you go through, that shapes you, and that challenges you is a blessing and a lesson. The heartbreak has made you stronger. Loss has shown you resilience. Laughter has brought you love. Even if you feel like you’re floundering, hold on.
Living on your own terms means making empowering choices to shape your direction, but you must also trust you’ll find your way when the circumstances are out of your hands.
8. Forgive yourself and move forward.
Don’t hold onto past pain and guilt. You will have days where you completely lose yourself, but you are not permanently lost. Keep moving. Keep growing. Keep believing in who you are and making choices that reflect who you desire to be.
Featured Image Credit: Rodrigo Borges des Jesus