So much of our modern culture encourages us to seek fame, glamour, and wealth, without much regard for what our purpose is. These external ways of measuring of success are much less satisfying and authentic then working to live in alignment with our deep values and life’s purpose.
In the ancient text of the Bhagavad Gita Krishna makes it very clear that we must follow our own path in life.
He says, “Better is one’s own dharma even if imperfect than another’s dharma followed perfectly. Better is death in following one’s own dharma, for another’s dharma brings danger.” (Schweig, Bhagavad Gita: Kindle Locations 1535-1542).
The challenge each of us faces everyday is the challenge to find and follow our own path. We must work to tune out all the voices and noises that tell us to do something else and follow the compass of our own heart.
So here are 5 Steps To Following Your Heart
1. Vanquish Fear –
Very often people know what they want to do, but they are too afraid to do it.
It’s easy to get caught up in thinking what might happen if you try.
Here’s what might happen if you try. You may fail. Every great person ever has failed a ton of times. It just doesn’t make the paper.
Here’s what will happen if you don’t try. You will always wonder what could have been.
Failure lasts only moments, but regret lasts a lifetime. So, vanquish your fear and go for it.
2. Cut the BS (Blaming Stories)
We retell these stories over and over and over again until they have worn grooves in our minds. It’s hard to stop, but they almost never help.
Notice when you tell these stories, notice how they affect you, and then start telling a new story.
Everyone is writing a novelist composing his or her own lives. You write the story. Characters may act in funny ways and have a life of their own, but you are the one who gets to say what it all means.
3. Stick Things Out
This has been the hardest one for me. I’ve always had an easy time going for a new adventure, but sticking with one thing is challenging.
But it’s important to know that following your own heart isn’t always about going for it. Sometimes it’s about buckling down and staying put.
Sometimes the key is to stay with something past the point of comfort. It helps you evolve and creates trust in yourself.
4. Know Who You Are
I actually should have put this first, because everything else is dependent on this. I you want to be able to discern what your heart is calling you do to. You have to learn who you are.
This means engaging in the arduous, fun, annoying, and joyful process of self examination.
Meditation is a great activity for this as well as being part of a religious group or institution that offers a path for self examination. But it doesn’t matter what method you choose.
Anything from through hiking the PCT to starting counseling to living at a monastery to joining a men’s or women’s support group can help. The important thing is you set the intention to learn who you are.
5. Believe, Believe, Believe
This is the first and last step of this process. No one can follow your heart but you. Other people have their own agenda. If you don’t believe in yourself and your own path, they will happily co-opt you for their dreams.
This doesn’t mean that following your heart is an independent process. Cooperation and collaboration are essential on any path. But it does mean that the motivation and the nexus of choice comes from you.
Starting on this path requires believing that you can learn to follow your own heart. And the end of this path requires that you believe that your heart will not lead you astray.
The road forward isn’t always clear and it is only when we step forward with deep faith that we can face the darkness of uncertainty. But I know from my own life and experience, limited as it is, that stepping into the unknown in much more rewarding than staying stuck.
Following your heart means embodying your life fully and completely. It means making every step an adventure. And even though it’s scary as crap sometimes, it makes every moment on the path a blessing.