woman in green jacket raising her hands

A recent Google search discovered over 250 million articles that agreed – to feel fulfilled in life, you need to experience three things:

  • You must be doing something which challenges you.
  • You must feel interested in the things you do.
  • There needs to be some reward for doing these things.

The problem? Most people don’t (or can’t) experience all three of these qualities of life simultaneously. When you get stuck in the status quo, you frequently are no longer being challenged. Things might be somewhat interesting, but they’re not exciting.

Even if there is a reward in the form of a paycheck or a stable relationship, losing the other two items do not make up for this.

It’s time to abandon the status quo and create a challenging, interesting, rewarding life. How? Put your focus and intention into these five steps.

Step 1: Quit Doing What Everyone Else Is

Even if everyone else (your social circle, family, friends) seems happy doing a certain thing, living in a certain type of house or apartment, or engaging in certain social activities, this doesn’t mean you are or will be.

People have all kinds of jobs. They’re involved in all kinds of activities. Not all of these are right for you. You will feel much happier by focusing less on what everyone does and more on what you want.

Here’s a place where your journaling practice can help. What activities do you find yourself dreaming about or yearning for? What interests you? What activities from your past keep coming up for you?

Take some time to explore those things that keep coming back to your heart and mind – there’s a reason! Spend some time intentionally experiencing those activities and then determine if you need to add them to your life on a consistent basis.

Step 2: Stand Out More

Seriously, are you genuinely happy playing it safe? Or would you be willing to take a chance to be seen for who you authentically are in all your magnificent, eccentric, perfectly imperfect glory?

The beautiful thing about letting go of the idea of fitting in is you are no longer stuck as a follower. You’re giving room for your deepest dreams and desires to come to the forefront, and you’re willing to do the work to keep them there.

It’s a lot more fun being the trendsetter, anyway. You can inspire positive change in yourself by giving yourself room to do and be something different.

Here’s another idea for a journal entry: What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? What would success look like if you defined it for yourself and not by what “society” says it is? What’s the smallest positive step you can take toward being someone different, and how quickly can you make that happen?

Step 3: Let Go of Thinking You Can Buy Your Way to Happiness

When we’re unhappy, we start trying to increase our happiness by burying ourselves in stuff, thinking this will make up for it. If we only had that new car, outfit, or sports equipment…what if we booked that far-away vacation?

The harsh, unavoidable truth? All the new TVs, fancy cars, designer clothes, and unusual vacations in the world will never make you feel any more fulfilled. Doing what you hate, what pulls life OUT of you instead of empowering you as you try to get ahead, will always be a soul-suck.

Be open to an alternative – maybe it isn’t about the money! Yes, we need currency to function and survive in our modern world, but it doesn’t have to be the end-all of our existence.

If the acquisition of “things” makes you so miserable that you neglect your health and your family, or once you get the “thing,” you can’t enjoy it because you have NO TIME, how much did you really gain?

What’s more important – having the most “toys” or having fewer toys but more time to experience and enjoy them?

Step 4: Increase your Self-Trust Level 

You don’t need everyone else to tell you what to do. Yes, there are people in your life with good advice and good things to say – they may even be inspirational. That doesn’t mean you have to abandon your own sense of what is right for you and adopt the lifestyle and activities they have committed to.

You already have pretty solid instincts. Perhaps you’re not feeling as connected to those instincts as you’d like. When you ignore your instincts, that “still, small voice within” gets harder and harder to hear.

Sitting with yourself and examining what’s going on in your life, what drives you, and what results you’ve gotten can help you gain clarity.

Here’s another journal entry: What makes you uneasy? Where do you experience this uneasiness, and can you reduce or eliminate those situations from your life? What would make you feel more comfortable and fulfilled?

Do what feels right to you. Honor your moral code. You’ll find you’re happier about your life, and the building blocks of a standout life will become more known to you.

Step 5: Take More Chances

Playing it safe is one of the most significant ways we lock ourselves into the status quo. Living a risk-averse life is safer because it doesn’t push you beyond your comfort zone and may even lull you into a sense of negative security.

Unfortunately, that undemanding, never-make-you-stretch kind of life is one that will prevent you from bettering yourself.

If you want your life to change, to support your dreams of standing out from the crowd and living into your authentic self, you will have to take a chance on doing something different.

One of my favorite business motivators is course creator, speaker, and author Amy Porterfield. She’s introduced me to the idea of DSD – Do Something Different. It’s a philosophy that you must do something different when you want your life to change.

Ready to get physically stronger and fitter? Do Something Different and adopt a steady workout routine that challenges aerobic fitness and builds muscle strength.

Ready for more responsibility and promotion at work? Do Something Different and take a class that ramps up the essential skills you need related to technology, people management, finance, marketing, or creativity.

Want to stop renting and become a homeowner? Do Something Different and research the neighborhoods you’d like to live in. Keep your eyes and ears open for people who are downsizing or news about new housing developments. You could get in on the ground floor and be a trailblazer.

Together these five items tap into and create a powerful force for change in your life.

Dedicate yourself to living life outside the lines, to Doing Something Different.

Explore your dreams and embrace the authentic person you are inside. Empower yourself to find challenge and passion and build a standout life that YOU define.

As for the rest? Remember the adage: Do what you love, and the money will follow. You’ve got this!

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About the Author Dianne Daniels

Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, and currently residing in Norwich, Connecticut, Dianne M. Daniels' mission is to empower women 50+ to Amplify their Self-Confidence, Deepen their Self-Knowledge, Inspire Creativity, and Glide into the next phase of their lives with the Power of Journaling, Affirmations, and Assessments.

You can learn how to use these time-tested, proven practices to create and manifest the life you want (and deserve) to live.

Dianne is an ordained Unitarian Universalist Minister with a Master of Divinity degree from Starr King School for the Ministry. She's an avid reader, a lover of old houses (she renovated an 1850s vintage Greek Revival home with her family) and has been journaling since the age of 9.

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