In my world, the flowers are blooming and the sun is shining today. I have eaten a healthy breakfast and can look forward to a warm bed to sleep in tonight. I love and am loved. I can take time to rest, socialise, sleep well, exercise and plan my contributions in the service of others. Welcome to my world today!
Sound smug? Yes, infuriatingly so. The reality is that life is often not so carefully choreographed. We are not sliding down a rainbow each and every day. We still feel pressure, we still feel stress, we have good days and bad days. Things still go wrong. Shit happens.
Stress is often a call to take a step back and dig into our inner resourcefulness, to live more intelligently and with courage, to be curious, to ask questions: Am I living a life that is aligned with who I am and who I want to become? Am I the “leader” of my life? How can I be a better leader of others? We know for instance, that stress can be inversely correlated with autonomy and power. The less autonomy and power we feel in our life, the more stressed we feel.
What does it mean to “lead” your life?
Think for a moment: what does it really means to “lead” your own life? For instance, how often do you put your health and well-being first? How often do you take the time to be alone? How often do you say ‘no’ to a demand that is not reasonable? Can you distinguish between your needs and your wants? How often do you consciously set boundaries between yourself and others? Do you know what motivates you? Do you know what motivates those around you? Do you know what you stand for if someone asked you? If you answered “always” or even “sometimes” to the above questions, you may well be “leading” your life on some level. If you answer “no”, “not often” or “never”, to some or all of the questions, you may be feeling pretty miserable right and stressed now.
Are you living an unlived life?
Gasping for air in a stultifying bureaucratic environment or a damaging personal or professional relationship, may mean that life has lost its verve. You feel stressed, depressed and anxious and have lost sight of your life purpose and values. As a professional working in challenging situations, you are overwhelmed by constant demands, burnt out, lacking in confidence and not sure about what you are trying to achieve for yourself and others in the workplace. More often than not, you may simply be invaded with a feeling of ennui. Something does not feel right. You are not learning any more. Maybe it is time to ask: why do I do what I do?
Are you a leader or follower in your own life?
Everyone likes you. You are doing well in your job. You are lucky. You are wealthy. You feel confident and talented. Suddenly, faced with a moral choice you are unsure about what direction to take. Or, faced with a career choice, you do not know what to do. Something has changed. You discover that your reactions and responses to a situation are different, unexpected even. You are not the person you were 5 years ago.
Most of us go through periods of life doing what is expected of us by our parents, our bosses, our families, our friends. We do what we “should” do. We say what we “should” say. We obey what we are taught. We “follow” the rules as given to us. Can you remember a time when someone (a parent usually) told you to stop doing something you loved doing? You may have been decorating a cake, playing an instrument, playing a game, painting a picture, dreaming, doodling, writing. How did you feel?
Empower, Mastery, Change
If any of these questions resonate for you, welcome to life coaching! Being a “leader” of your life, you learn to empower yourself, answer the difficult questions of your life and learn to support others to do the same by empowering others to achieve their potential.
Giving yourself permission to learn and grow and improve your overall well-being, your physical health, your emotional life, your intellect, your sense of self-awareness is the first step. Health and well-being is the sustainable foundation upon which you can build a rich and productive life. The second step is identifying your values and what is important in your life on all levels. From self-awareness, you begin the quest for mastery. By establishing personal and professional goals, you ask more questions: What do I need to know? What new skills do I need to learn? What do I need to stop doing? What do I need to start doing? Where do I need to go? What needs to change?
Mastery implies not only skills but whole new ways of thinking and being. Masters are zealots for practising new ways of thinking and being every day. To “lead” your life is to consciously inhabit your life, connect with your values, take risks, do what you love doing, find your purpose. Being the leader of your own life, you learn to empower others, lead respectfully and with vision, make a difference in this world. Say goodbye to stress.
It is never too late to start anew. Take one small step at a time towards a better future.
Try it and see!