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Traveling By Your Inner Compass: A Guide to a Better 2009

Posted Jan 07 2009 5:14pm

inner-compass It’s a New Year, and if you’re anything like me, I bet you’re full of energy and ready to make a lot of positive changes in your life. The bad news is, this energy isn’t going to last! Within a few weeks (or maybe even a few days!) life is going to get in the way and your attention is going to move on to something that seems more urgent.

So we’ve got to act fast. Today is the day to start moving in the direction you want to go. If you don’t start now, you may just put it off for another year, or two, or forever! Then one day you’ll wake up and realize that you’ve missed your chance to do something incredible. Life is short and I don’t want that to happen to me or to you!

That is why I’ve put together a ton of motivational and useful content over the next two weeks. I hope you’ll follow along, do the exercises I share, think about what your life looks like now and what you want it to be in the future, and most importantly, start to take ACTION toward making it happen!!

How is This Not a New Year’s Resolution?

On the surface, this process may seem a lot like what many of us go through when we make New Year’s resolutions and we all know that those don’t work. Bear with me, and I’ll show you how this process is very different. This site is about change, and how to work with change, rather than fight against it. I’ve searched far and wide to find ways to change my life for the better even though the world is changing, and I’m going to share a very unique way of thinking with you. I hope it benefits you in the same way it has helped me.

I call this process Traveling by Your Inner Compass. It’s a lot different than the typical SMART goals that most coaches and counselors advise you to make. In brief, Traveling by Your Inner Compass means:

  • Living by your heart, not society’s expectations (or your own guilt)
  • Following an interesting path, even if it isn’t the straightest one
  • Accepting that all plans have to change, and looking forward to the new opportunities that change brings
  • Recognizing that nothing lasts forever – even the really good and really bad stuff

If that sounds like something that speaks to you, I hope you’ll follow along. This is the first post in a five part series, so keep reading all week!

Finding Your Direction

The first step in taking a journey is to find out where you would like to go. Sure, you could just start walking. If you’re the type of person who is comfortable with that, I definitely support your wandering. However, if you’re reading this site, you probably want some sort of guidance in your travels.

Before you can start Traveling by Your Inner Compass, you first have to find where it’s pointed. What do I mean by that? We all have hopes and desires that excite us to the core of being. Think about an idea, relationship or a project you’ve been involved in that just made you feel giddy, like there were 1,000 butterflies having a dance party in your stomach. That’s the type of excitement we’re looking for!

Most of us have spent a lot of time and energy trying to squash the thoughts that get us this excited. We’ve decided to do what is “ safe” by going to school, picking a “practical” occupation, and finding a “secure” job. If you’ve done this and you can honestly say that you are 100% happy with your choices, then I applaud you. No need to read further. If you’re one of the 99.9% of the planet’s population that thinks things could be a bit better for you, this post is talking to you.

It may seem hard to discover what excites you, but I think you’ll find that it’s actually quite simple. Here’s an exercise you can do in 10 minutes to figure it out:

Take out a sheet of paper and list all of the things that you do in a typical week. (This doesn’t include vacations are anything unusual like that.)

Put a + next to everything you think is Fun, and a – next to everything you think is Not Fun.

Think about what the Fun things have in common. As an example, they might be activities where you get to help people, they may be times of quiet reflection, creativity, extreme sports, or what have you.

Give the Fun things a label like “Adventure,” “Serving Others,” or “Constantly Learning.” That is your direction for the year. (Some people call this a theme, so if that helps, use it.)

I know this seems way too simple to work, but that is the whole point! This process should be easy and it should be super fun! Even the hard stuff should be super fun! If you have to force yourself to work on something, then it isn’t what your heart really wants. Keep doing it if it’s the only way to pay your bills, but other than that, let it go. (We’ll talk about this more in other parts of this series.)

My Direction for 2009

I’d be a total hypocrite if I didn’t follow my own advice, so I’ll be doing the exercises as we go along as well. When I made my list of Fun and Not Fun stuff, I realized that I have been enjoying all of the opportunities I’ve had in the past few years to travel and meet new people. I’ve also had the chance to meet some cool people in the virtual world. I’m not always the best at nurturing relationships, but I value them a lot. Because of that, my direction for 2009 is: Reach Out.

I think it’s a great direction to travel in and I’m super excited about it. In fact, my first action based on Reach Out is to invite all of you to travel along with me for the rest of this week. Tomorrow we are going to explore ways to start taking the first steps in your new direction.

I also invite everyone to do the 10 minute exercise and share your theme in the comments, or on your own blog. If you’re a blogger, just send me a link at maria (at) neverthesamerivertwice (dot) com and I’ll include you on an update to this post.

Here’s to an awesome journey in 2009!!

Photo by Kriss Szkurlatowski

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