Living your life with personal authenticity and having strong moral principles isn’t always easy, but I can guarantee you that life is easier when you incorporate authenticity and integrity into your everyday life.
Other people learn that they can trust you, and that trust is useful, even if it isn’t easily earned. Acting with authenticity and integrity is harder in the short-term, but invaluable down the road as you build the life of your dreams and accomplish all your goals.
Life steadily gets easier when you act with integrity, and the alternative, living an inauthentic life full of contradictions and falsehoods, is full of stress and negative consequences.
These 9 core principles will help you to live life honestly and authentically:
- Work on your personal growth. Developing yourself is an effective way to display and embody authenticity. When you focus on positive growth as a person, you become more comfortable with yourself, value what you stand for, and feel less need to be inauthentic.
- Be reliable. Be on time (or early), avoid cancelling appointments, and do what you say you’re going to do - an important aspect of authenticity is to be genuine. If you say that you’ll deliver your report by noon on Friday, ensure that it’s done on time. It’s easy to be genuine if you perform according to facts you've stated - don't over-promise, over deliver. Make promises you know you can keep and you’ll never disappoint anyone.
- Be honest with yourself. Before you do or say something, question why you’re doing it. What is your real purpose? Are you being self-serving at the expense of others, or are your motives more honorable? Self-awareness is a primary component of integrity.
- Be gentle, but be honest. Do you people believe that you’re an honest, authentic person? Do you "pad" statements to be comfortable around certain people or to pretend that you’re something you’re not? Be gentle with yourself and don't employ "puffery" to make yourself something you haven't yet achieved. It's also important to remember, however, that honesty isn’t a license to insult people - telling a coworker that she’s fat or that her husband looks like a troll isn't appropriate, and it's hurtful. That's the kind of "honesty" that doesn't benefit anyone.
- Live by your authentic values each day. If you’re unaware of your values or have pushed them aside for expediency, now would be a great time to bring them back to the forefront and live them. Knowing your authentic values, the real and true signposts for your life, makes it easier to make decisions - big and small. It also makes your behavior more predictable, which makes others more comfortable. Know your authentic values and live them each day, in every way.
- Be willing to say no. When you say yes to things you don’t want to do, you’re not demonstrating integrity. You don’t have to take part in every opportunity that’s presented to you. Valuing your time is smart. Be honest and say no when you mean it.
- Be more confident. Confident people are comfortable. Comfortable people are better able to act with authenticity. A lack of authenticity can arise due to discomfort. You’re not comfortable meeting your new partners' parents, so you fake an alternate appointment. You lack the confidence to give a speech at work, so you stay home “sick". You let others down when you act this way, but more importantly, you let yourself down.
The more uncomfortable you are each day, the more likely your authenticity will be challenged. Boosting your level of confidence and self-esteem genuinely is the answer. Work on both each day, using affirmations and education to reinforce your accomplishments.
- Stop doing the things you know you shouldn’t do. Are you stealing pens and post-it notes from work? Stealing your neighbor’s Sunday paper? Not putting a quarter in the kitty at work when you pour yourself a cup of coffee? Think about your behavior - do you feel a sense of discomfort or unease when you commit these less-than-authentic acts? Notice the feeling and adjust accordingly - stop performing the negative acts.
- Be willing to stand up for something. Most of us have values and opinions, but few are willing to even share them, never mind stand up for them, lest their social relationships suffer. While others won’t always agree with your stances, they will respect you for having them and sticking to them. You can set the example of living an authentic life for your friends, family and co-workers.
Live your authentic, intentional and positive life. It may appear to be a more challenging way to live on the surface, but living with integrity is easier in the long run. You’ll be more respected and experience more success.