Tell me if this sounds familiar . . .
You know that you SHOULD do things a certain way, but at the same time, your inner compass is telling you a different story. You have chosen to take a path that is in line with what your family and friends expect of you, but it doesn't feel right. Sometimes, it may not even necessarily feel wrong, but you know that this life path doesn't make you passionate about life.
Well, I am here to remind you that you DESERVE to feel passionate and lit-up about your own life. If your inner compass is telling you to take a different path from the conventional route, and the thought of doing this makes you feel excited to be alive, then maybe you should consider taking this unconventional path.
This issue is near and dear to my heart, because for the longest time, I thought that I needed approval from others before I could move onward with my life plan. When I was in my final year of university, I planned on doing a PhD in clinical psychology, because that was the expectation among society, my fellow students, and my family. However, I can remember walking down the hall toward my research lab countless times, looking at all of the impressive research posters on the walls. As much as I appreciated these students' work, I could not see myself dedicating the next SIX YEARS of my life to more psychology research.
The whole reason why I changed my major from English to double major psychology and English was because I wanted to HELP PEOPLE. I wanted to make a difference in other people's lives, and I wanted to change the world. Yet, when I thought about the endless years of university ahead of me, I felt almost like giving up. None of this felt true to my soul; in fact, it seemed like a prison. However, I thought that this 6 year doctoral program was the only way to change people's lives as a therapist, so I kept driving forward. It wasn't until the last weeks of my undergrad studies that a professor finally opened my eyes to alternatives.
He made me realize that I was following all of the conventional advice that any other professor would give me, but he wanted to dig deeper. I hardly knew this professor, but he changed my life. Now that I had "permission" from a professor to look at other options, I started to read into an online master's of counselling psychology program that I had been feeling drawn to. I ignored this pull toward this program, because I believed that it must be no good. I was wrong. This school was fully accredited, and I would have actual hands-on experience with clients during my schooling. Upon graduation and certification, I would be fully qualified to start counselling. I could change lives in a matter of 3 years rather than 6!
This decision was the first of many to come that challenged the status quo. Now, I am almost addicted to doing things MY WAY. This means that, although I love my family and friends, they do not get to live my life for me. I started following my inner compass and releasing my petrifying doubts. Ever since this became the way of life for me, I have NEVER looked back! In fact, I am THRIVING inside and out, and I have a clear plan for a career beyond my wildest dreams. I now have a plan for a career that makes me bounce out of bed in the morning. There is no mundane, 9-5 lifestyle staring me in the face anymore. I am ready to THRIVE, and so are you! If you are reading this post, odds are, you are tired of just existing and ready to start LIVING to the fullest! Here are some major considerations that I want to share with you so that you can also feel safe on the road less travelled.
The road less travelled is intimidating; in fact, it is downright terrifying, but it is the most rewarding journey I have ever been on
Fear is probably the biggest reason why most of us choose to follow status quo in the first place. Leaders are the path-breakers of society, and the rest of us decide that our best option is to follow these leaders. If you're more of a leader yourself (like me), then blindly following doesn't feel right anyway. Still, society and the people close to us often reinforce the importance of following the safe, comfy path laid out for us already. This is fine if you are happy following this path, but if it feels wrong to you, then you are doing NO ONE a service by playing small and going along with what you "should" be doing.
Thinking about trying something new and unfamiliar is intimidating to say the least! Last year, I enrolled in my first business course, because I wanted to learn how to start an online life coaching business. I didn't even know that this was a viable option, but I found out that many women MY AGE (25-30 ish) are making 6 and 7 figures annually with their own businesses! I had no idea how these women were doing it, but I was determined to find out, so I enrolled in multiple business courses using my student line of credit. This sounded scary and risky, but it also sounded like the lifestyle of my dreams!
Obviously, this plan goes against EVERYTHING that the world expects from a counselling psychology major. Rather than building a brick and mortar business with all the stuffy, dry methods of traditional counselling, I will be offering services in packages with my own unique branding and online marketing.
If you feel drawn to something that is unconventional to say the least, don't be so quick to dismiss this feeling. This is your inner compass guiding you toward the life choice that will make your soul sing! At the very least, check out this scary but exciting option with an open mind. When I started reading about doing my master's degree online, I didn't plan on applying then and there. Instead, I read about it with an open mind for a few months before submitting my application. The same was true for all of my business courses, especially my first one! I read about the coach and made sure that she was legit before I invested my money into her programs. This decision became less terrifying as I learned how viable my new, thrilling option really was.
Times are changing (rapidly!)
God love our parents and grandparents, but we are living in a different time from when they grew up. This is especially true for our grandparents; they were in our position many decades ago, so they would have done things in a way that made perfect sense THEN. However, times are changing and options are multiplying for young people. Us millennials are living in an incredible time, because everything is expanding quickly. Change is becoming more rapid in the world, and although this fast pace can be scary, it's thrilling to know that more and more opportunities are becoming available each day!
Now, I am going to get a little spiritual here. The universe is constantly expanding. This means that change is something that happens ALL THE TIME; in fact, it's kind of the whole point. Change is how the universe expands, so obviously, it is how people expand as well. When we see how effortlessly the universe expands, we sometimes forget that change has some pain and fear associated with it. This pain and fear often holds people back from taking action that makes them feel alive and vibrant, because they know that there is a risk involved. I also believe that our loved ones tell us to follow the traditional, safe, beaten path, because they care about us and don't want to see us fail.
However, the beaten path is often "beaten" to death. The world NEEDS more people to branch off and start their own path. As leaders, we are path-finders. Without path-finders, where would the world be now? We would be exactly where we were 100 + years ago (to say the least)! Odds are, your inner compass is guiding you down a path that the world needs you to take, even if it seems scary or goes against other people's beliefs.
You will only ever regret not following your heart
Another thing to remember is that only YOU are living your life. Only YOU have to deal with the consequences of not following the pull toward something that your friends and family don't understand. Let's look at the worst case scenario for a moment. If you decide to follow your inner compass down an unconventional, less secure path and find out that this path is not for you, what happens to you? Odds are, you end up stronger and equipped with life lessons that you gathered on this road. You can also take comfort in the fact that you followed your gut instinct toward something that intrigued you, and although things did not happen as you would have liked them to, you have no regrets or wonders left. You have also learned how to divert your path into something that WILL work as a result of trying what did not work.
Now, if instead, you decide to ignore your inner compass and follow the safe, secure, beaten path that everyone else is walking on, you might end up with some serious regret. You will always wonder what your life could be like if you had followed that other route instead. Living someone else's version of a good life does not necessarily mean that YOU are living a good life. Emptiness and regret are NOT what we want in life; these 2 things make thriving a challenge.
The truth is that we usually regret the action that we did NOT take over the action that we DO take. This is because mistakes and failure at least supply us with lessons and strength, but sitting cozy in our comfort zones supplies us with nothing more than we already have. This is something to keep in mind when balancing the pros and cons of doing things YOUR WAY.
So let's start thriving
It's time to stop existing or just living for the sake of living. We live in a time where the status quo is constantly being bent and challenged. We are alive in a world where opportunities are becoming increasingly more plentiful for more and more people, so why not embrace this incredible change and carve our own paths? Don't be afraid to take the road less travelled, because this road has offered me more than any traditional path has.
Counsellor in training & Team Beachbody coach
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