Have you ever stopped to think about where your life's path is leading? Is it leading you on a journey of ever increasing aliveness and self expression or is taking you to a place of conformity, mediocrity and discomfort?
My Reality Check
A year and a half ago I had to accept the reality that my life's path wasn't heading in the direction that I wanted it to. On the outside, I had no doubt that I projected an image of success. I had pushed my way up the corporate ladder at quite a rapid rate given my age. I was obscenely well paid, wore tailor made suits and holidayed in exotic locations.
But on the inside, I felt anything but successful. Each day that I dragged myself into office felt as if I was selling another piece of my soul. For 60-70 hours per week, I performed work that I found deeply dissatisfying in environments that I was completely unsuited to. Now believe me when I say that this wasn't some kind of passing phase either. In my 8-9 working years since graduating from business school, I had managed to secure consulting contracts with some of the most prestigious corporations in the world. Funnily enough, I had similar work experiences in almost all of them. To add insult to injury, there always seemed to be at least one person in authority that I would mysteriously come into conflict with in each workplace. They appeared to go out of their way to make my working life extremely awkward and uncomfortable.
Early on in my career, I used to fully engage in the drama of being victimized by these evil tyrants! But over time however, I came to the realization that these people were actually not my enemies, but my teachers. By letting me know that I didn't fit into their model of the world (and I must admit they did have a solid argument!), they were unknowingly pushing me forward to follow my innermost passion for doing bigger things in the world.
So What Was Going Wrong?
Over the span of my corporate career I had plenty of time to think about what was going wrong. On many different levels it seemed as if I was following all the rules correctly. I got good grades, went to a very well respected university and had a CV that most aspiring corporate climbers would kill for. So why then wasn't I experiencing a deep sense of happiness and fulfillment portrayed in the photos of all the corporate recruitment brochures? Why did I feel so empty?
After years of considered thought, I discovered that the reason why I was so unhappy with my professional life was the fact that I was following society's preconditioned path of success and not my own. I was trying hard to fit into the corporate world by being someone else. Deep down, the only person I really wanted to be, was me.
The thing that really helped me to make the changes that I needed to make was to visualize how unbearable the rest of my life would be if I didn't find the courage to change. I visualized what it would be like to do the same uninspired job, in the same uninspired work place, with the same uninspired work colleagues, for the next 35 years of my life. It wasn't a pretty picture let me tell you! The great thing about following this process was that it created a scenario in my mind that was so painful that it propelled me to do whatever it took to make the necessary changes.
So how do you know if you're on the wrong path? As a society we are conditioned to look to external sources for guidance on what we should be doing with our lives. We are conditioned into mistrusting our own intuition. But when it really comes down to it, the best and most effective way to find out whether or not you are on the wrong path is to look deeply inside yourself.
Taking this kind of approach will take a lot of courage, particularly if you have spent any length of time masquerading as someone else as I had done. Not only that, the answers that you find may not be exactly what you want to hear either. But stick with it. It will be worth it. Keep pushing yourself to greater and greater levels of self honesty. Let your actions be directed by your new level of self awareness. And most importantly, surround yourself with people that encourage, motivate and inspire you to be all you possibly can be.