The challenge of living your own life

As our Leaving Certificate students ponder on what course to take when they finish second level schooling in a few short months, many are bedevilled with the thoughts of what they want out of life. However,all the data available for successful people, believe that when you follow the subjects and the passion you have for some specific career, you are more likely to excel and become successful in your future.

There is no greater challenge and no greater reward than to be the master of your own destiny. The meaning of life for every person is as unique as their fingerprints, so it is important to ponder and ask yourself “Am I leading the life that I want to live, or am I being dictated to by teachers, peers, family or friends”? Are you making choices based on your values, beliefs or your own needs? Or are you living your life based on the expectations of others? Our personalities, interests, abilities and dreams are not set in stone and we are all adaptable to change, as long as we understand what it is we want to change. In order to live your own life, you must prioritise the things in life that makes you happy and more fulfilled. Searching for your own unique path takes time, trial and error and an understanding of the journey ahead.

For many of us, just knowing what we want to do with our lives is a real challenge. However, when you define what you absolutely want will eventually allow you to reach your goal. Once you know what you want to achieve in life and set that goal, with determination and tenacity you will get there. Following your dreams and what you passionately desire, and recognising the people in your life that you care about, is a big part of becoming happy and contented with your life.

When you are following the pathway you have chosen, the return will be far greater in your workplace or career, and you are more likely to succeed, when you are doing what you really like. In a recent study it was found that the stronger the internal motivation for doing something, rather than the external rewards, the more likely you are to succeed. In other words when you are doing something you love, you will put more energy into it. Our identity is created by our early carers, be that parents or others, and we often try reliving their personalities rather than developing our own. That is why children reared in destructive environments carry those traits into adult life. According to Dr R. Firestone, a person’s true identity can be affected throughout their lives by the experiences they have had, that either damage or support their personality.

In order to live our own lives and fulfil our own dreams and goals, we must distance ourselves and our thoughts from destructive family and societal influences. Most young people take on the value systems and the beliefs of the family and culture they grew up in, or they rebel and become defiant in opposition to what rules they were reared by.

To become your own person, and in order to live your own life, it is important to develop your own personal values and qualities, rather than accepting or rejecting the values and beliefs of those who reared you. When you become a mature adult, you should follow your own principles that will give your life more meaning and belonging. When you are able to differentiate the negative influences of the past, it allows you to become the person you truly are to follow your own desires and be able to live a fulfilling life. We must strive to live our own lives rather than the lives our parents, families or even what society expect from us.

It is important that you know what your own core values are and to set goals that are achievable and that you can accomplish. Write down what you want to achieve, and keep them small to make things easy to do, in the beginning. In a recent study it showed that people were significantly more likely to reach their target if they wrote them down. Make a note of progress as there are no shortcuts to having a meaningful life. Get rid of negative thoughts, beliefs and attitudes that diminish your self belief and self esteem. There will always be challenges and our own thoughts and self- critic  are our own worst enemies. If you want to make changes in your life for the better, you must get rid of the inner critic that will constantly attack how you feel and think. Remind yourself that these are just critical inner thoughts that can be nasty and taunting towards your ambitions for success.

This inner critic will infiltrate your thoughts with a long list of how or why you cannot attain success, so you must break free from those negative thoughts and develop positive thoughts about how you are going to be successful. The inner voice often tries to undermine your efforts by filling your head with self doubts or encouraging procrastination. These thoughts often hone in on your weak spots and undermines your confidence. Believing in your personal power is essential if you want to live your own life. When you believe in your strengths, have confidence and acknowledge your competences, you will realise you have all the requirements needed to be successful and master of your own destiny.

Here,  are 7 tips to help you improve your life:

  1. Be grateful for what you have. Start your day the night before.
  • Be ready to grow up. Drop the attitude. 5. Don’t ignore your emotions, but remember that feelings aren’t facts. 6.  Watch out for negative thinking.  7.  Set up and stick to a routine.


.              Peg Hanafin, MSc.

Author of Getting More out of life

Thoughts for your journey