“Don’t think you’re on the right road just because it’s a well-beaten path.” – Author Unknown
I made a significant decision when I was young that I have never regretted. Simply put, I decided that I did not have to live my life like everyone else. I would live my own life. I would pursue things of lasting value rather than the newest fads of society chased by everyone else.
It sounds simple enough. Yet, countless multitudes will never make that decision.
Instead, they will succumb to the pressure to conform. They will live their life purchasing the trendiest products and fashion released to the masses – not because they actually need them, but just because their neighbors bought them. They will base many of their life decisions on the celebrity spokespersons’ pitch of the day. They will waste their energy trying to keep up with the Joneses.. all for the elusive purpose of conformity. And in exchange, they will lose their life and forfeit their soul.
Decide today to live your life. You do not need to live life like everyone else. Your life is far too valuable to be wasted on the life that everyone else is choosing.
Here are a few steps that I have found to be very helpful. Use them to get you started (or continue you along):
1. Celebrate your uniqueness. Your life was never meant to be lived like everyone else. You don’t look the same, you don’t sound the same, and your personality is special. Your deep-held values are unique. Even your laugh sets you apart. Throwing that away just for the sake of looking and living like everyone else is one of the cruelest things that you can ever do – it will always prevent you from fully living your life. Instead, champion the things that make you unique. Celebrate them.
2. Realize that most peoples’ lives are heading toward destruction. Just consider the latest statistics. For example: Last year, on average, Americans carried $8,100 in consumer credit (not mortgage debt) – that is $8,100 for every man, woman, and child in America. It’s no wonder 46% of Americans say they suffer from debt-related stress. And according to the American Medical Association, stress is a factor in more than 75% of sickness today. In addition, The Americans for Divorce Reform estimates that soon “50 percent of marriages will end in divorce if current trends continue.” One of the leading factors? You got it, financial problems.
3. Accept the truth that there is a better life out there. Reading through the statistics above, one can not help but say, “There must be something better out there.” There is and there always has been. Unfortunately, most people are so busy tripping over each other to purchase culture’s newest release that they miss out completely on the better life. Do not be fooled. The better life is not being mass-produced in a factory… you won’t find it on the shelves in a department store. It has never been found there. And never will be.
4. Identify your values and allow them to guide your life. Grab a piece of paper and pencil. Across the top write, “What I most want to accomplish in life.” Begin making a list. Post that list some where that you will notice it every single morning. Allow it to shape your life. Base your decisions about time, energy, and money on those values. Allow them to guide your life even when they take you down a narrower road than everyone else.
5. Find a mentor that you admire. Surely you are not alone in your desire to live a better, more fulfilling life. Others have traveled the same road prior to you. Seek them out because you will need to look hard for them - they are uncommon. Perhaps they are in your family, your organization, your spirituality, or on your library shelves. Whether in person or through their writings, soak up as much as you can from them. Learn from them and be inspired by them. Follow their life, not the masses.
6. Reflect, reflect, reflect. Regularly pull away to meditate, contemplate, and reflect. An unexamined life is not worth living because the pull to conform has always been too great. Our lives will always “drift” in the direction of conformity if we lose our directional bearings. Withdraw often. Review your list of values and reflect on the current trajectory of your life. Is it headed towards the end you desire… or just following the easy road of everyone else?
Your life is valuable. It is the greatest asset you own. It holds potential for great things. Don’t let it slip into mediocrity by choosing to live it just like everyone else. It is not a worthy trade.