Design Your Adventure: Building a Life That’s Yours

by Annemarie Estess

In the previous post, we ventured into living a life true to self and why it matters. Now we dig into the How factor. How does each of us recognise what living ‘true to self’ entails? How do we begin making that more real?

Let’s uncover 6 core elements of building a life that’s yours.

A side note from our brains: Any one of these elements could warrant a dissertation. Consider this a springboard to simply begin.


Tune into Purpose

Aka: a way of using time and energy that feels important both to you personally and beyond you. ‘Life purpose’ often sounds so big and paralyzing that we’d rather curl up in a ball and nap. So let’s start there.

Stanford researcher William Damon defines purpose in a Studentcentricity interview as, “An enduring long-term goal that you’re committed to, that you find meaningful and that has some consequence beyond yourself.”

Slightly less monstrous, eh? And to be clear, having a purpose doesn’t require that we are single-handedly shifting the tectonic plates or redefining capitalism.

We are on purpose when contributing. Contributing to our families, neighborhoods, classrooms, community centers, teams, workplaces, and maybe even fellow coffee shop patrons.

Purpose is a motivator and perspective check. It helps us remember that we’re not alone on this planet and that we possess a signature sauce of stuff that we care about / are mildly-to-wildly good at / have capacity to influence for the better.

Listen to Values

Values are the principles that we deem to be important. Think of them as the pillars upholding the house of our lives, supporting our choices and actions.

Tapping into our values doesn’t exempt us from challenging tradeoffs. It does enable us to feel aligned in how we focus our attention and make moves.

Why are values so crucial in living true to ourselves?

They help us articulate why fulfilling lives can look so radically different from one person to the next. One person’s heaven can look like another’s total hell. And both can still be deeply meaningful to each person.

Surfacing our values and using them as touchstones lets us live in accordance with what actually matters to us, instead of getting dragged along by what we think we should want.

Switch on the Dream Machine

To live true to self, we’d better dream up cool sh*t.

Dreaming of enticing future possibilities is quite bold. It can highlight the distance between where we are now and what could maybe, hopefully, be true down the line.

Scheming up future plans offers us a wealth of internal information. What would be awesome to see out there on our horizon? Why?

If the objection of, “But it’s depressing because what if I never get there?” is creeping up on you, take solace. Many of us stew in that.

It’s not about getting attached to the exact form of our dreams. It’s about conjuring up an appetite for living and refreshing our sense of direction.

Do you dream about inventing something radical? Colonizing Mars? Meeting the love of your life while backpacking?

Get interested in those dreams and what they represent. The underlying influences of our imaginations are fertile ground for getting inspired and fired up to take meaningful steps.

 Activate Superpowers

Leverage character strengths (superpowers, as we call them) versus focusing on weaknesses is key to growing and applying our skills in meaningful ways. It’s also good for our health and connections.

The VIA Institute on Character summarizes research demonstrating that utilizing our strengths contributes to resilience, healthier relationships and more effective collaboration and problem solving.

Living from strengths is fundamental for feeling well-used. Each of us has capabilities, however oddball or intuitive they may seem to us, that hold potential to benefit the world in some shape or form.

Keep your eyes open for those sweet-spot opportunities to offer up your talents and meet needs.

Befriend Fears

Living life true to self dredges up plenty of fear and doubt. We’re likely shaking up some well-worn habits for interacting with people and systems.

The key isn’t to delete fear. Fear signals survival instincts and social instincts that can be a healthy guide for us. But if fear is the place we chronically decide our lives from, day after day, we risk boxing ourselves into an ever-tighter perimeter.

The courage to live full lives means we are stepping into the arena of things that matter, and not letting fear conduct the show.

Find Your People

Living life true to self is not a solo trek. Far from it.

Community is essential. When we venture out of familiar territory, it’s even more critical to have our go-to people who can hear us and do their best to understand what we’re navigating.

Connect with people who will share their real stories – the high and the lows. We need regular check-ins to learn from each other and recognize we’re not as isolated as we might think.

We get to develop relationships with people who are in our corner and remind us of our capability and basic goodness. And we definitely need people to laugh and swear uncontrollably with when things go bananas.

Bottom line: To courageously live true to self, say yes to fostering relationships with people who stretch you, applaud you, and want to see you lead the biggest motherfucking life you can muster.

The Wrap Up

Living is about continually stepping forward, doing our best to tango with circumstances as we go. Exploring these elements won’t make it a cakewalk to build a fulfilling life. It does make us more proactive at grabbing the ben and authoring our own stories.

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming ‘Wow! What a ride!'” – Hunter S. Thompson

A coach is a great partner for clarifying the life vision that is true to you. The will also be your champion while you put that into action . Reach out to us to get started with a coach.