Are you living your life purpose? Are you true to yourself? Are you living your life in the way you want to live? Is your life meaningful to you?
These are difficult questions as too often we live in ways that help us conform to society. Or, we find ourselves doing things that others suggest. Too often, going along with what a spouse, friend or adult child suggests shapes the day and shapes how we live.
Being true to yourself starts with knowing who you are and accepting yourself. It involves knowing your values, and developing a purpose for your life. In the 60s, this was often called living to the beat of your own drummer.
The journey begins with introspection. What is important to you? How do you want to live? What actions are consistent with your purpose? Does your daily schedule move you toward fulfillment of obligations to yourself?
In retirement, there is no time for excuses, no time for prettiness, no time for conformity. We need to understand and acknowledge who we are and live in ways that are true to the chosen path. What others think, believe, and expect needs to take second place to what you want for yourself.
Who are you?
The core of who you are develops through childhood and early adulthood.
As we grow older, friends, co-workers, and other close associates influence us — either affirming or challenging who we are. We may seek to become more like the people we admire. We may try to emulate people who demonstrate qualities that we would like to adopt. We may try on different identities in our family, in the workplace, and in society until we develop our own identity. Identity forms the core of your inner self.
Becoming aware of the inner self is a life-long process that involves introspection and self-awareness. You continuously ask questions of yourself. Questions like: What do I stand for? What motivates me? What are my hopes and dreams for my life?
Understanding your values
Personal values and awareness of the inner self are closely related.
Values form as a result of the attitudes and beliefs of caregivers who raise us. This process begins with how caregivers meet our basic needs. As we grow, we learn to conform to certain social norms. Environmental factors, societal expectations, experiences, and culture influence values and beliefs.
Values determine the real you and define the inner self. The ways we think, talk, dress, and act demonstrate how values get aligned with daily decisions.
Understanding your inner self means clarifying important values — truth, justice, love, hope, optimism, respect, honesty, self-respect. It means giving yourself permission to live life according to your strengths and passions. It means recognizing your limitations, taking steps to overcome deficiencies, and, accepting those limitations that can’t be overcome.
What is your life purpose?
The foundation for developing a life purpose, or personal mission statement, depends on understanding the inner self and personal values. Unlike values, life purpose changes over time.
For example, in years of career development, purpose likely reflects aspirations and goals related to work and other accomplishments. When I was a young mom and when I was growing in my career, my life purpose/mission more clearly related to parenting, continuing education goals, and career development.
Writing my first mission statement was a result of reading Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and working with a trainer and coach. The first draft was a ‘wordy’ document where I expressed my philosophy and values; gradually this became a concise statement of beliefs and goals.
I recently revised my purpose statement as so much has changed since retirement and since becoming a grandmother. My purpose now relates to the things I value in retirement — being a loving wife, mother, grandmother, and friend — as well as aspirations about writing, compassion, and self-care. I’ve expressed these intentions in a revised personal mission statement.
My personal mission statement ends with these words “truth, justice, respect, and a sense of fun will guide my days”. These words express intention about how I want to live. They provide direction for daily decisions and express the core values that motivate and inspire me.
I hope that this post about being true to yourself inspires readers to write, or review, or revise your statement of life purpose. Knowing who you are, your values and your life purpose makes for a happy, meaningful, and inspired retirement.