We all know the popular phrase: you only live once.
Don’t waste your life because you don’t know if you’re ever going to get another shot at life again.
So that makes you want to live for yourself, but what does living for yourself actually mean?
What’s the difference between living for yourself and living for other people?
Understanding what it means to live for yourself – to live authentically, to live according to your own rules, to live without worrying about other people’s thoughts and opinions – is the first step towards gaining control of your life and defining your life, your way.
Here are 10 ways to start living for yourself today:
1) Figure Out Who You Are
Before you can even begin thinking about living for yourself, you have to understand who you are.
This might seem like something you should already know, right?
After all, if you don’t know who you are, then who does?
You know your favorite foods, your favorite movies and TV shows and books and music, and you know what you want to do with your life.
But if you stop and think about it – what else do you know?
Could you write a thousand-word essay about yourself, or would you be done after listing out your hobbies and interests?
Who are you, really, and what makes you tick?
Too many of us have no idea who we actually are.
And living for yourself means understanding who the “self” is outside of all your surface-level details.
2) Separate Your Goals From the Goals Others Set For You
Deciding to live for yourself can be an exciting, thrilling decision.
But it can also be terrifying because it means stepping off of the path that others may have already laid out for you, and stepping onto a new one that you have to create yourself.
And the most difficult part of setting down your own path?
Figuring out what you want because you want them, not because someone else convinced you that you want them.
So think about everything you think you believe about what you want in life. Maybe you want a big house, a big family, a career in medicine or law.
But are those things you really want?
Or are those just the things that society made you associate with a normal person’s version of success?
Don’t let society, your family, your school, or anyone else define what success means for you.
Figure out what you really think when you think of success.
3) Define Your Own Terms For Happiness
Happiness can feel so endlessly elusive.
You don’t really know if your idea of happiness is a product of your own thoughts or something that everyone else convinced you to think.
Let go of what “happiness” is associated within your head, and let happiness float around on its own without any strings or connections, until eventually, you figure out what makes you genuinely happy.
The great thing about this journey towards living for yourself?
You get to decide everything.
You get to decide what makes you happy, what provides you with fulfillment, and you get to decide how much of your life you put towards reaching your own terms.
4) Design the Life of the Person You Want To Be
Once you figure out who you are and your personal terms for happiness and success, it’s time to try to think of your “end game”.
Think of who you are today, and then think of who you would have to be the person that has achieved everything you want in your life.
Now ask yourself – what are the differences between “Reality Me” and “End Game Me”?
What do I spend my time on, versus what would the ideal version of me spend their time on?
What do I care about, versus what would the ideal version of me care about?
Once you figure out the persona of your dream self, you can start building the right habits to help you become the person you want to be.
5) Choose the People You Allow Around You
The impact our social circle has on who we become and how we live is generally understated by society.
The simple truth is this: you become the people you surround yourself with.
If you’re working tirelessly every day to achieve the ideal future and reality you want, but you spend all your free time with people who don’t have the same drive or motivations, it’s likely that you’ll find it difficult to stay motivated.
So be careful about whom you spend your time with.
You never want to be the smartest person in the room, or there’s no room for you to grow.
Surround yourself with people who have the same goals and dreams as you; the same fire and purpose in life, whatever that purpose may be.
6) Never Stop Growing
Growth isn’t something that happens on its own, but many people make the mistake of believing that it is.
Our entire childhood and young adult life, “growth” is programmed into our path almost automatically – we go from one grade to the next, until we pass grade school, high school, and finally university.
But as an adult, the natural path of growth is over.
There are no more teachers or professors ushering you from one class to the next, threatening you with expulsion if you don’t study and pass your classes.
As an adult, growth stops immediately, and the only growth you have is what you find in your career, which can often stagnate.
So don’t stop growing.
Keep learning, keep growing, and working at increasing your knowledge and your skills actively.
Figure out what you want to learn and what you want to know, and go out there and learn it. Don’t wait for the world to put it in front of you, because here’s the secret: it never will.
7) Do What Makes You Happy
We spend so much of our time doing things that simply mean nothing to us.
Our free time is wasted on activities that don’t make us feel “alive”; we’ve become a society addicted to passive entertainment – scrolling through social media, watching reruns on Netflix, and playing video games that are little more than addiction cycles for our brains.
The sad truth is that many of us have forgotten how to live.
Even if we do have free time, we don’t use it wisely, almost as if we’re just burning our minutes away, waiting for tomorrow so that we can do it all over again.
Live for yourself by giving your mind and body the activities that make you feel truly alive, stimulating you in ways no other activities do.
Identify what makes you really feel alive – whether it’s hiking, going to the gym, reading a book, learning a new recipe – and do those things as often as you can.
8) Find Out What You Truly Believe
Ask yourself – what do you believe in? What matters to you, and what are the values you would fight for?
And it’s not just politics. We have values and beliefs in all aspects of life – career, fitness, health, relationships, spirituality, society – and figuring out what your personal values and beliefs are is essential towards understanding who you are and living for yourself.
Your core beliefs and values should matter to you.
If you can’t think about what you truly believe in, then you probably haven’t taken the time to think about what you feel, and instead you’ve simply let people tell you what to believe in.
Cut yourself from whoever is telling you what to believe, whether it’s people around you or an influencer you follow.
Think on your own terms and think for yourself – find out what your heart wants and what matters to you.
9) Meditate Regularly
No matter how far along you are on this path towards living for yourself, you must always remember to meditate often, ideally once a day.
Many people are practicing meditation these days and it’s easy to see why.
Set aside a small window of time for yourself daily – anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes – where you disconnect from everyone and everything around you, and simply sit in your solitude to think.
The self-discovery you will attain from daily meditation will constantly help you along on your journey to live your own authentic life, unfazed by the world around you.
You will never stop figuring out new things about yourself, new thoughts and dimensions, and how to apply those learnings to the way you live.
10) Let Go Of Your Negativity
And last but not least, living for yourself means living for yourself, in every single way.
This means letting go of any negativity you might have in yourself toward other people.
Let go of the grudges, the old issues, the problems and discontent.
Let go of everything that doesn’t involve your own goals, because the longer you choose to keep that inside of you, the longer they’ll continue to influence your decisions.
Live for yourself, and no one else.
Get their voices out of your head by forgiving them in your heart. Only then can you be truly free from their influence.
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