How to live an authentic life
By Craig Nathanson. The Vocational Coach
Have you ever asked yourself if you are living the life you were meant to live?
Have you ever asked yourself, as you pondered your life, is this all there is?
These are great questions to ask when you reach forty and beyond.
Who Needs an authentic life?
If you are satisfied with the status quo life that no longer challenges you or gives you inspiration and passion, then you don’t need an authentic life.
What is an authentic life?
This is another good question since we rarely teach children or adults how to live such a life. You are living an authentic life if you feel you are in control and you are determining your own direction. Your work is a natural outlet for your creativity, your interests and your abilities.
Why is living an authentic life important?
We are living longer than ever before. One hundred years ago we wouldn’t even be having this conversation since the average lifespan was barely mid-forties. There are more opportunities then ever before to recreate our lives and our work. When we work without purpose and without meaning, our lives grow empty and lifeless. Each day is just like the previous day and the cycle continues until we retire and die. We live for tomorrow; just 2 more years, or 6 more years, or 10 more years at our miserable jobs until we’ve saved enough money to finally stop. We’re not sure what we will do but we know it won’t be anything like what we are doing now. Then sadly, life gets in the way, and something happens to block our hopes and dreams of a more fulfilling life.
How can I live a more fulfilling life?
I developed the simple Ten P Process™ over four years ago to help people, especially those over forty, discover and do the work they love. During the last four years, through workshops, teaching, talks and private coaching, I have seen this model applied and used by many people on the way to a more authentic life. I think it’s time now for you to follow the Ten P™ model and make the necessary changes in your own life.
What is your life about? How will you make a difference in the world?
What bothers you about the world or your neighborhood, and how can
you contribute to solving it through your work? What work could you do that would give you more daily energy and passion? With Purpose, you will experience a greater sense of integrity and authenticity. Is this enough incentive for you?
What is most important to you; what do you Prize?
Too often we are afraid to admit the answer, too afraid that we will be judged by our decisions rather than by who we are. Are you working today in a job that has nothing to do with what is most important to you? If you love teaching, for example, and your days are spent balancing financial statements, only you can do anything about it. Define what is most important to you and think through now what you will have to do to follow what is most important. Write down specific goals that align with what you Prize. This can be a lonely exercise but the most important one you will ever do.
What is your view of yourself? Are you happy with your life, your choices, and your work? What is your view of the world? Does your world inspire you and bring you energy? What is your Perspective of others? Do other people interest you, arouse your curiosity? Much of our activity in the world revolves around strictly monetary pursuits and land and political interests. I believe this is a result of people not taking the time to follow a more authentic life that honors themselves, others and the world they live in. You can be different; it starts with you.
Have you given up on yourself or have you started to think of what is Possible for you and your work? It’s easy to let others influence your life’s direction because of what they think is impossible. Listen to your own language. Does it inspire you or depress you? Don’t settle for “One day” or “I hope” or “Maybe if I could do what I really love…” Start now to shape more Possibilities for yourself. For example, imagine a new Possibility for yourself and your work right now. Notice how this thought brings on a new thought and another and another.
What is your Place or role in the world? Have you thought about this?
Have you just assumed that what you do today is the role you are destined to carry out for the rest of your life? We are all pre-conditioned by the environments, cultures, economic situations and the personalities we were born with. These are all hard to change. It will take disciplined effort on your part to think through the roles you want to play in life. No one will do this for you even if you got good grades in school and awards at the office.
What is your Position or attitude on a daily basis? How do you think about yourself, your work, your world and those around you? Do you wake up daily being grateful or jealous? Do you wake up angry at yourself, your work and those around you? Your daily position will either support you and nourish you, or prevent you from both enjoying the moment and moving towards what you want. What can you do now to change what is not working each day with regards to your attitude, especially towards your work? This will make all the difference to you!
Have you ever gone to sleep at night tossing and turning with the excitement of waking up in the morning because you can’t wait to get started on your work? This is Vocational Passion™ and it is one of the most exciting feelings in the world. You feel like you are spending your days doing what you love and your work creates meaning for you. Make a list of all your passions. Now envision how you could spend your day using these same passions in your work.
Perfect Vocational Day
What would be Perfect for you and your work? Most of us settle for so much less. We hope that if we work harder and faster, the boss will notice us and perhaps we’ll get those four days off next winter or that bonus or maybe that promotion. With the promotion, we will get to work even harder and faster doing more of what we don’t like. Seems silly, doesn’t it? Spend some time thinking deeply about and writing down exactly what an average day might be like for you if it revolved around your passions for the rest of your life.
What are you doing now to close the gap between living an authentic life and your life today? If you don’t know where you are going, then perhaps any old road will do. Write down what you want and compare it to where you are right now. If there is no gap between these two realities, there will be no tension and no problem. Following this road will not be easy. There will be emotional challenges. You may have to change some of your beliefs. There will be relationship challenges. You may have to change some of your relationships. There will be financial challenges. You may have to make some financial changes in how you spend your money.
Putting this all together starts with the right support network.
Start surrounding yourself with people who encourage you, believe in you and who provide daily inspiration and ideas about what you want to do. Look for defining moments in your life. Use these as the trigger to finally live an authentic life, starting with doing the work you love.
Give yourself Permission now to follow your heart.
Still not convinced?
The alternative for you is to simply retire (“retire” comes from the French word for “retreat” and “hide”) and prepare to die. You’ll die slowly, of course, surrounded perhaps by other like-minded people in a golf club community playing bingo and discussing what you used to love to do. By the way, the French also gave us the word “career” which means “fast track”. Sadly, this is the way many people live their lives; running fast through their work only to discover they wasted years and years doing useless work only to retire and play bingo. You can make a different choice now to start to live an authentic life. This will be the hardest path you will ever follow. It will be lonely and provide lots of challenges. It is also the only path towards your authentic life.
Dr. Nathanson has written and published 5 books on work and mid-life development and management including his most recent, “How to find RIGHT work during challenging times” and “The Best Manager: Getting better results through people”. Dr. Nathanson’s newest book is due out in late 2013, “Joyful work in the second half of life: The five stages”, which accumulates twenty years of research by Dr. Nathanson in the intersection of work and midlife.
Dr. Craig Nathanson is an honorary lecturer at the University of Liverpool, England. He is also one of the first faculty members for Roehampton University Online, London, England.
Dr. Nathanson has been teaching on-line graduate and undergraduate programs since 2003 and currently is teaching Management programs at Keller (Devry), US.
Dr. Nathanson has been an adjunct faculty member since 2001 at Cal State East Bay in California (USA) teaching in the areas of Management, Leadership, and Human Resources.
Futher information can be gained from http://thevocationalcoach.com/