Lost and Found – How to find yourself when you’ve lost your way

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Life used to be linear — at least it seems that way now. When I look back at the generations that came before — even if all else failed, you could follow a path and your life would turn out alright.

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No, you wouldn’t necessarily be famous, own a Fortune 500 company, or live a life completely filled with your passions — but you’d have food on the table, a family, and most likely a community that cared for you.

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Loyalty and hard work were the golden tickets that sailed you straight to your dreams. It wasn’t all peaches and cream — if you didn’t follow the path; you were granted the hard life of a “Rebel”, the road less travelled (For the record, even with a formula for success, I’d be likely to be a rebel.). But for the masses, the trajectory was set.

What was the secret formula for success?

Grow up, get a good job, work hard, settle down and have a family, and then buy a house.

In that order.

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Nowadays, there are so many choices and obligations — it’s far too easy to lose sight of who you are and what you want. Success isn’t just a steady job with benefits anymore — and spending tens of thousands of dollars on college tuition won’t guarantee you a good paying job.

So what do we do?

The emphasis has switched from a traditional goal of financial security to one of fulfillment. But if your goal is fulfillment, you have to know what matters to you.

So, how do you find your way back to yourself?

Nobody knows you better than you.

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Ask your former self —Quite often, when I’m at a crossroads I look back at the hopes and dreams of my younger self. Recalling those dreams (unclouded by responsibility and unmarred by reality) helps clarify the core behind my present inclinations. The material is everywhere; parents are the keepers of your past. Ask them!

I kept a journal, wrote stories, and my “spotlight centric” personality gave my family years of captivating storytelling material. Even if you weren’t as attention driven as I, past homework assignments, or family stories can offer revelations.

Remember what’s important— Minutia clouds the path to our dreams. Often, we lose ourselves because of life’s obligations. Our focus is dominated by the basics, the needs of our dependents and pure survival — having time for self-reflection is rare.

My present is consistently clouded by numerous dream-dulling realities that make simple questions like “What do I want?” and “What makes me happy?” virtually impossible to answer. Make it clear. Create a value hierarchy. When you find yourself fixating on things at the bottom of that list, give yourself a reality check.

Be creative — I know, you’re thinking “I don’t have a creative bone in my body.”. And you’re right; creativity is a muscle (not a bone) — use it or lose it.

Creativity produces two byproducts. One. It causes you to think outside the box. Your present-day “in-the-box” situation has left you wondering who you are, what you’re doing and where you’re supposed to be. You feel lost. If wandering aimlessly isn’t your preferred state of being, you have to change how you think! Out-of-the-box thinking is the kind of brainstorming power you need to plot your path to liberation.

Two. Creativity frequently explodes in the form of crafts. It forces you to engage physically and mentally. It’s rare that we dedicate more than 50% of our attention to anything today. We’re overworked, highly-caffeinated, and suffering from prolonged digital stimulation. Engaging your entire body in one project and existing completely in the present moment may be the dose of creativity you need to realize your breakthrough.

Shake it up, try something new — New is scary. It’s outside the place of comfort that feels safe. Make a personal goal to try new activities every week(bonus if you put yourself in new situations every day!). Read a book about a new topic or go DO something new! You won’t like everything, some of the things you try will be horrible, but you’ll start to key into the types of things you enjoy.

Most of all, don’t forget discovering yourself is a life journey. If you talk to anyone over the age of 70, you’ll be awestruck hearing how many times they’ve reinvented themselves. Give yourself permission to be more than one thing.

You should constantly be growing, and when we grow, we change. We aren’t the same now as we were ten years ago, two years ago, or even last week. Anyone can get lost; almost everyone has been. Allow yourself to rediscover who you are. Dream of what a better version of yourself.

You have a finite amount of time to make it happen. Take advantage. Find out how you can do life better!

Jennifer Dowe

Jennifer is a Do Better-Change Maker dedicated to empowering women to live a lifestyle of constant growth and personal development. Fixing is her superpower, which she yields as a writer and transformational coach. Her happy place is filled with fix-the-world conversations, Smartfood popcorn, and Talenti Gelato; concisely presented at JenniferDowe.com.