How your life will change when you decide to live authentically

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A year can fly by rather quickly. It’s easy to be self-critical about your perceived lack of “progress” from one New Year celebration to the next. While others play their highlight reel, you look at your own life and feel down. I know what this is like because that’s how I felt at the end of 2017.

In the early months of 2017 I immersed myself in a demanding and stressful project. In order to succeed in this one area of my life, I mistreated my body, neglected my relationship, and allowed my well-being to suffer. Once the project was finished, I was burnt out and listless. It took months for me to recover. When I started my last year of law school I thought I would thrive with that challenging experience behind me, but instead I felt lost. A habitually ambitious person, I found myself without any goals or passion; an alarming state of being for someone like me. At the end of the year, I should have been overjoyed when Brett and I moved into our new home. But with the stress of moving weighing heavy and that lost feeling in my stomach, I was unhappy and knew I had to do something about it.

I started 2018 armed with an intense desire to shift my life. I committed to a morning routine centered around exercise and physical wellness because, for me, that was an easy step in the right direction. I was surprised at the powerful impact this had on my outlook every day. Within weeks I felt stronger in every sense of the word.  I also subscribed to three different self-development podcasts* and took notes on the helpful points from each of them. It felt good to take charge of my life and do things that were good for me every day.

But this was only the beginning. My daily wellness practice revealed something concerning: I was entirely out of touch with myself. In the chaos of law school, I tuned out my inner-voice so I could get by. After almost three years, I felt less like the person I wanted to be when I started. I never took the time to think about what I WANTED. I did what I NEEDED to do, often on the advice of professors, career counsellors, and practicing lawyers. I did everything I was told so I could “be successful” but the success wasn’t making me happy. I was on the path to someone’s happy ending but definitely not mine.

Upon realizing this, I had to turn up the speaker on my inner-voice. Let me tell you, this is not an easy task when our society encourages conformity over unconventionality. I had to have an honest conversation with myself about my strengths and weaknesses and accept that I’d been trying to force a square peg into a round hole for a little too long. I came to terms with the fact that the path to my dream career would require more journey and less destination. I spent years so afraid to fail that I never saw the beauty in learning opportunities, but I wanted that to change. With this new perspective, I decided to forge my own path without fear and go where I felt called. I sought inspiration from coaches and experts like Sarah Centrella and Thomas Dodson, and I read every self-development book I could get my hands on. I felt encouraged every time I saw people I know following their passions, whatever they were.

If you find yourself facing the same challenges, I encourage you to commit to one “act of authenticity” per day and see if helps you feel more in control of your life.  By my definition, acting authentically is the practice of listening to your gut when you would otherwise ignore it. It means looking inside for the “right answer” instead of outside. It means turning down offers, invitations, work or requests that don’t align with your goals, aspirations or values. It means saying what you want and need out loud, as often as you can muster the courage. It means setting strong boundaries for yourself to protect your time, energy and emotions from people or activities that drain you.

For me, acting authentically means wearing what I like to work because personal style is a pillar of my self-expression. It means embracing both my masculine and feminine energies as sources of personal power. It means making time for my health, even when I have to choose it over work. It means telling people about my dreams and aspirations, even when I think they will judge me or call me crazy.

I’m starting 2019 by building on my progress from last year. I’m committed to getting closer to my life purpose everyday, but I can only do that if I let my soul guide me to the right choices. While I may face judgement, rejection, reprimand and ridicule, it will be worth it to live life on my terms. I’m pursuing a meaningful and fulfilling career in law but I’m doing it my way.

I can’t stress enough how much my life changed when I decided I wanted it to be different. When you take control of every aspect of your life and hold yourself fully accountable for your future, you no longer worry about how things will turn out. You know you’ll get where you want to go because you are the one who will take you there. Never underestimate the power that is within you.

Wishing you all the best in 2019 and I can’t wait to see everything you will accomplish living your most authentic life.

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* My go-to podcasts - Lori Harder’s “Earn Your Happy”, Lewis Howes “School of Greatness” and “Almost 30” with Krista Williams and Lindsey Simcik

Special thanks to my friend Lucas Kokot for taking these photos