Life is definitely funny. Sometimes it’s the “haha” funny kind, and other times it’s the strange kind of funny.
I started out in life thinking I was going to be a dentist, then two decades later, here I am, banging away an article on my laptop in my pajamas and a dog on my lap.
I can’t count the number of times I’d caught myself wondering, “Am I on the right track?” as I chose a path that definitely deviated from my original one.
But all throughout, I got a feeling that I was, all because I could see some affirming signposts along my way.
In this article, I’ll share these signs with you that will tell you you’re on the right path in life, even if it doesn’t feel like it.
1) You’re constantly learning new things
This for me, is the ultimate green flag in my journey throughout different careers and life decisions.
Whether it was at work or in my relationships, I was always mindful of the learning opportunities the situation presented. As long as I was learning something new, I felt like I was in the right place.
I would say that my first clue that it was time to move on or consider a change was a feeling of stagnation.
2) Your life isn’t smooth sailing
So, you think you’re getting nowhere because there always seems to be a roadblock popping up?
Ironically, a life devoid of challenges isn’t really an indicator that you’re on the right path. In fact, I would find it strange if my life was too smooth and fine and dandy.
Because that would mean I wasn’t growing.
The presence of obstacles and difficulties often means that you’re pushing yourself. You’re aiming for things outside your comfort zone, and that’s always, always a good thing.
The next time you face another challenge, don’t shrug your shoulders and say, “Oh well, I just can’t catch a break!”
Reframe it and say, “Oh, so the universe thinks I’m up for another round? Challenge accepted!”
It’s all about perspective.
3) You’re not the same person you were a year ago
That’s right. Heck, you’re not even the same person you were yesterday!
Does that sound like I’m being excessively enthusiastic? Not at all.
Look, if you’re always growing and learning, that means you’re in a constant state of flux – a wonderful, living, breathing creature that’s forever morphing into a different shape.
That’s why I love those “I was today years old when I found out that [insert new fun fact]” tweets and memes. It’s a reminder that every single thing that crosses our path in life adds to the person we are now.
4) You’re surrounded by positivity
Speaking of where you are right now, look around you. Do you see positivity? Hope? Are you surrounded by people who lift you up and inspire you?
If your answer is a resounding ‘Yes’, then you are on the right track.
It took me some time to understand this, but the company you keep plays a massive role in determining your direction in life.
Energy is contagious. And remember, we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.
So, if you’re in with a bad crowd or surrounded by defeatist and negative people, that’s going to affect your path forward.
If that’s how it is for you right now, it might be time to connect with people who make you feel good about yourself and inspire you to do better in life.
5) You’re becoming more comfortable with being uncomfortable
Doing better in life means you’re getting more and more okay with fear, uncertainty, and other uncomfortable situations.
Remember that feeling of stagnation I mentioned earlier? Ironically, that comes when your life has barely any discomfort.
And unfortunately, if you stay in one place for too long, the more comfortable you get…and the more uncomfortable with discomfort.
Did that sound confusing?
Let me put it this way: if you shy away from difficult situations, you might be stagnating.
And if you don’t, then that’s awesome! As someone whose most profound breakthroughs happened during great times of discomfort, I’m telling you, that means you’re on the right track!
Those uncomfortable moments taught me to adapt and be more resilient. So, these days, I don’t quail so much anymore at the thought of being placed in a difficult situation. I now know that I can figure it all out eventually.
6) You’re making decisions that align with your values
When I was younger, I had a period in my life when I was constantly changing jobs. I would hop from job to job, going after the money. Even if I’d just started at a new place, once I saw another job ad offering a higher salary, I’d apply and leave the current one.
I’m pretty sure you’d say, of course! That’s the practical thing to do!
But it was a cycle that led me nowhere and made me feel hollow inside. You know why?
Because I wasn’t making these decisions based on what I really held dear – a sense of purpose and fulfillment. I was accepting job offers that, as attractive as they were, were not compatible with my values.
Look, of course money is always going to be an important factor. But don’t ever forget that your values are equally, if not more, important. That’s how you’ll feel fulfilled in the long run.
And I’m not talking about just your professional life. The same goes for your relationships.
7) You’re not afraid to say no
Learning to say ‘no’ is part of making decisions that align with your values. That’s a sign you’re growing and becoming more assertive.
I used to struggle with saying no. I was a huge people-pleaser, so I would often overcommit or do favors I didn’t really want to do.
I was going to parties when all I really wanted to do was stay home and recharge. I was taking on other people’s tasks at work because I just hated saying “no” and being thought of as an uncharitable coworker.
The result? I was often stressed and stretched out too thin.
My turning point came when I sat down and reflected on how much time I was spending on other people’s affairs.
Learning how to set boundaries wasn’t easy, but slowly I got there. Like with any new skill, it took a little practice.
But if you can already do this – decline things that don’t serve you – you’re definitely on the right path.
Plus, if you can say ‘no,’ this also means…
8) You’re not worried about what others think
You want to wear a two-piece on the beach, but people might point and say, “The nerve!”
You want to try your hand at stand-up comedy, but people might laugh at you, not with you.
You want to marry the person you love, but your family frowns on interracial marriages.
We’ve all got wants and needs that we don’t pursue just because we’re so scared of what others think.
I totally get it; I’ve had such moments myself in the past. But I always say that one of the best things about growing older is that you begin to care less what other people think.
However, you don’t have to wait till you’re older. You can begin caring less right now, no matter how young you are.
And if you already do this, give yourself a pat on the back. That means you’ve got a healthy sense of self-worth. You’re free, happy, and confident enough in your own skin.
Is that the right path or is that the right path?
9) You’ve started to enjoy your own company
Ah, this one’s a real indicator you’re on the right track. You know why? Because it takes a great deal of self-confidence to be on your own.
Think about it – what’s the most common misconception about people who eat in restaurants or watch movies alone?
They’re sad. They’re lonely. They’ve got no friends.
Whenever I hear this, I have to stifle a snort. If only people knew how much we enjoy our alone time!
Personally, I think that knowing how to be alone is a sure sign you’ve got it together. In fact, studies show that solitude leads to increased happiness, better stress management, and greater life satisfaction.
10) You’re prioritizing your mental and physical health
Are you doing self-care? Dedicating time to exercise, meditate, or simply unwind? Those are all vital ingredients of a life that’s on the right track.
I admit that exercising regularly is something I really struggle with. But one thought that really helps me is this: exercise has a forward-facing outlook – there’s a bright future ahead of me and I want to be in shape for it!
That might be obvious to most people. Of course, exercise is forward-facing!
But for people like me, who find working out tedious (and painful!), we need that extra push, that dose of optimism, that vision of a long and happy future to work towards.
One thing to remember is that “the right track” is going to look different for everyone. But I have to emphasize that for sure, it isn’t a straight line. There are going to be bumps and winding alleys, sometimes it may slow down and even seem circular.
However, these ten signs should tell you that you are where you should be, even if you don’t feel like it. Trust in your journey and keep striving towards growth – your goal might seem like a long way away, but as long as you’re not too comfortable, you’ll get there.