We’ve all done it. Just as we start to get excited about a new venture or spread our wings, that little voice of doubt comes up and says, “What if it doesn’t work?” “What if I fail?” and a favourite amongst the South Asia community, “Log kya kahenge?” i.e. “What will people say?”
For many of us, that’s the end of our new venture. We’ve given up before we’ve even started. Our thoughts and hopes shoved to the back of our minds while we move forward with the lives that other people think are best for us.
Looking to others to validate ourselves is the quickest and most guaranteed way for us to self-sabotage our own happiness.
I call that type of lifestyle a “proving” lifestyle. We contort our lives according to what others (parents, family, friends, strangers, anyone) define as “happy” and “successful.”
A “proving” lifestyle can show up in many different ways: from the careers that we choose, our life partners, our homes and our clothing. Financially we find ourselves buying newer cars even when we can’t afford it, the latest designer clothing even when we’re barely making our credit card payments or showing up for a job that we hate because of the status it brings. When we’re living a “proving” lifestyle, we measure our self-worth against arbitrary numbers in the bank.
Emotionally, a proving lifestyle can translate to staying committed to unhealthy relationships or close ourselves off entirely from others to save from disappointment. We accept unacceptable behaviours (even abuse) to avoid societal stigma.
Living a “proving” lifestyle is damaging and possibly even dangerous. We’re risking our financial and emotional well being to satisfy the demands of those around us.
There’s another problem with leading a “proving” lifestyle. No matter what you buy, what you study or whom you marry, it will never be enough. In this lifestyle, you’re always pushing the rock up the hill to get approval only to have it roll back down again.
So, how do we move from a “proving” lifestyle into a life where we’re challenged, stimulated, enriched and happy?
We start by embracing an “improving” mindset. As a life and business coach, I’ve worked with numerous clients to help them through this transition. The steps that I’m sharing with you today are some of the most effective ways to help you start moving forward.
The steps that I’m sharing with you today are some of the most effective ways to help you start moving forward.
However, once we consciously start moving towards an “improving” lifestyle, we realize that we are the only ones who can give ourselves confidence.
If you’re uncomfortable reaching out to your network, I recommend reaching out to a life coach who will help you articulate what you want and help you achieve it.
However, once we start focusing on improving our own lives, the only people we compare ourselves against are ourselves. After all, the goal of an “improving” life is to be the best version of yourself.
Once you embrace an improving mindset, you’ll start to see things differently. You’ll be less distracted by how other people (including your family) measure success. You’ll be living a life based on your expectations, not anyone else’s.