Steve Jobs (co-founder of Apple Computer) said in his commencement address at Stanford University on June 12, 2005: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”
This is what listening to your own inner voice is all about—living your own life.
But how do you know if that’s what you’re doing, or if you’re somehow conforming to someone else’s idea of what your life should be like? Sometimes it’s not all that clear cut.
Here are some clues to help you out.
5 Warning Signs
- Your life looks a lot like your mom’s or your dad’s, and that’s not what you wanted. Sometimes kids take over the family business and love it. That’s how a lot of small farms and hometown restaurants have managed to stay alive in today’s market. And hey, Donald Trump’s kids look like they’re enjoying what they’re doing. But there’s no doubt about it—our parents are big influences in our lives. If you’re doing what you know will make them happy, but you’re not particularly happy, chances are your living their idea of the good life, not yours.
- You have to drag yourself into your day. When we’re following our own dreams, we typically have a lot of energy, we’re happy, and we can’t wait to get going on the next project. If you’re in the middle of a life that’s just not for you, however, chances are you require tanks of coffee to get going most mornings, and you have to drag yourself through the day.
- You feel you have no power to change things. Even when things aren’t going perfectly, we have the power to make changes. If you feel trapped, however, you’ve probably given up your power to someone else. Doesn’t really matter whom—spouses, siblings, parents, and even children can sometimes be all too happy to run our lives for us. It’s up to us to put a stop to it. Have no doubt—your power to run your own life is always there. You just have to grasp it.
- You change your behavior/activities/decisions based on what others think. If you’re a so-called “people pleaser,” you have to be extra careful of living your life according to the whims of others. Those of us who despise conflict often will sacrifice our own desires to avoid it, figuring that disappointing ourselves is easier than facing the disappointment of others. Unfortunately, if we make this a habit, pretty soon we’re spending less and less time on our own goals—and time is something of which we don’t have an endless supply.
- You spend much of your time involved in lives other than your own. Do you find yourself obsessing about whatever your son is doing this week? Does it drive you crazy when your husband forgets an appointment of his? Do you feel like you have to be your sister’s keeper? If your life is slipping away without much progress toward your dreams, take a look at how much time you’re spending on everyone else, then back off a bit, and trust them to captain their own ships.
“And most important,” Jobs said “have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”