Are you truly free? — Or are you living someone else’s life?

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Are you blooming in a restricted zone? Is this where you are supposed to be?

Did you unwittingly give up your most precious possession? Freedom, self-determination, autonomy, these are different words for the same concept, the ability to choose and decide your life path. People throughout history have fought and died for this ideal. Yet we may have subconsciously given up living our life purpose without question. We are living someone else’s idea of what our lives should be like.

Think for a moment, when and how did you decide on the career path that you are now pursuing? Was it because you had a burning passion for the work? Or was it because someone(s) told you that it was a good field to go into? Or perhaps that is what the media and “everyone” said that is where the world is headed? That it is is financially secure/lucrative? That is what you should do based on your aptitude/test scores? Did you consciously align your inner wisdom and passion with your career and life?

In the many years I’ve given talks and coaching in leading corporations and organizations, I’ve had many executives and organizational leaders seek my counsel on this very topic. Essentially they are asking, “I’ve achieved what I thought would bring me success and happiness, how come I feel unfulfilled? What am I missing?” What they are missing is their true freedom of choice. They have succeeded, sometimes spectacularly, in society’s definition of a great life, but they have not consciously integrated their unique reason for being into the equation.

This is the reason why a high percentage of people in the workforce are disengaged. This year, Gallup research found in a study of 7,500 full time workers that over two thirds of them are unhappy and experienced burnout in their jobs. When people are not fully engaged or unsatisfied with their work, they are more prone to illness (63%), absenteeism, and lowered performance.

Does this sound familiar? If you are nodding in recognition, you are joining a significant percentage of the workforce who share the same sentiments. Good news, awareness is the first step to positive change. What you do with this realization will determine the course of your life going forward. Dramatic? Yes, Difficult? Not necessarily. Here are some points that will help lead you to feeling happy and aligned with your life purpose, your true freedom.

1. Pause. Oftentimes we are so occupied being busy that we do not question why we are immersed in the “doing”. Take a break so that you have the time and space to observe.

2. Ask. Why you are engaged in your work? Is this what you want to do with your precious life? Are you fulfilling your life purpose?

3. Visualize. What does your best life look like?

4. Review. How can you position yourself so that you are moving closer to what is more meaningful for you? What would have to be enhanced and what needs to be reduced?

5. Plan. List the steps to advance. Include the people, resources and a draft timeline to achieve your vision.

6. Move forward. Take a step; even a tiny action towards your dream brings you that much closer than before. It will also provide additional encouragement for you to keep going.

7. Make friends with your vision. Engage with others who are on a similar path. In associating with people and networks that affiliated with your goals, you will find inspiration, tools, friends and opportunities to advance your dreams.

8. Celebrate. Give yourself credit for taking responsibility for claiming your freedom to truly live your life. Just by acknowledging and taking the first steps you are already more free than ever before.

Today’s world is chaotic. Find sanctuary in your own path. In aligning with what is true for you, you will feel the peace that comes from within: true freedom and happiness.

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