In the modern world, it can seem like the possibilities are endless. While that can be exciting and freeing, I know it can also lead to uncertainty.
With so many different paths your life could take, how do you know if you’re on the right one?
While the world will throw obstacles in your way, this doesn’t mean you’re on the wrong track. It could actually mean just the opposite.
But there are definite signs that you can look for to see that what you’re doing with your life is working. Here are the ones to look out for.
1) You wake with positivity and optimism
By no means are all happy, successful individuals morning people. It’s less about when and more about how you rise to meet each day.
Take the time to observe your mood and your actions when you get up in the morning.
Do you procrastinate? Do you pull the covers back over your face and think, “Not again!”?
We’ve all been there, and I know that I once had a job that made me loathe the sound of my alarm every morning.
If you’re not happy to get up and face the day, it’s very likely this is because some aspect of your life doesn’t sit right.
On the other hand, people who are on the right path in life want to take another step forward. They wake with positive feelings and optimism, even on those days they know will contain challenges.
Think about it:
If you get out of bed thinking, “I can’t wait to see what this day will bring!” then it’s very likely that you’re on the right path in your life.
2) You’re open to new experiences
Just like bounding out of bed (OK, that might be a bit of an exaggeration) looking forward to a new day, new experiences also excite people who are on the right path and intimidate those on the wrong one.
If your path is leading you away from the things that will bring your happiness, every new experience can seem intimidating. After all, each step you take into uncharted territory could be another step sending you farther in the wrong direction.
When I was working that cringy job I mentioned and had to meet a new client; I usually experienced a pretty strong feeling of dread.
And I figured out that every time I represented the company to a new person, it felt like I was misrepresenting myself.
Each time, I was associating myself with values that I didn’t share, and this is one of the main things that made me realize I needed to re-assess.
But now, when I meet new people, I’m happy to talk to them about what I do because I feel it represents who I really am.
I’m open to new experiences because I believe they will take me to new, positive places.
3) Obstacles seem like challenges to rise to
Wishing for a smooth life free of all troubles is just that – wishful thinking.
It’s a fact:
Life will hand you lemons.
And you can get all sour, or you can make lemonade. Or, in the case of my grandma, make a sumptuous lemon meringue pie!
People who are leading lives that take them away from what they really need will necessarily dislike obstacles. They only see problems that will require more time, more resources, and more struggle to overcome.
That’s because they don’t see the whole picture.
Any obstacle can also be viewed as a challenge, as something to test, inspire, and teach you.
While every path has obstacles, the right one is full of experiences that can help you learn and grow.
Come to a river? You can learn to build a raft.
Is a boulder blocking your way? You get to use your muscles to climb over it – free exercise!
From a physiological perspective, framing obstacles as problems can cause unhealthy stress. But framing them as challenges can bring you exhilaration and even a welcome shot of the feel-good hormone serotonin.
When you’re on the right path, you will see opportunities when you encounter the trials and tribulations that life is sure to bring.
4) Your actions are in line with your goals
This is an incredibly important ingredient in the recipe for happiness.
If you haven’t done goal-setting exercises, I strongly recommend them.
I know that for me, sitting down and writing out my goals has led me to realize a whole bunch of things I was doing in my life that were not useful or were even in opposition to those goals.
If you have your goals clearly laid out in front of you, it becomes a lot easier to see the path toward them,
And then you can see whether you’re on it or not.
There could be many paths to your goals.
But one thing is certain:
If you’re on a path that leads away from them or takes a meandering route that will take ages to reach them, you probably need to make some changes.
If, for example, one of your medium-term goals is to have kids, but you’re out clubbing every night and have only casual relationships, you may realize that you’ll never reach that goal on this kind of path.
5) Decisions are easier to make
When I was younger, every decision I took, from choosing a donut to buying a car, seemed like a long and painful torture session.
I know now that the simple reason was that I didn’t know what I truly wanted.
I wasn’t in touch with my core values and life goals, so I had a really hard time knowing which option would take me in the right direction.
I’m not saying I have everything worked out, but I seem to have much better instincts that let me make decisions more quickly and confidently.
It’s a whole lot easier to see why I should get that minivan, even though the convertible looks more enticing.
When you find your decision-making getting easier and quicker, this can be a sure sign that things are aligning in your life and you’re moving in the right direction.
I still find choosing a donut next to impossible, though.
I guess some things never change!
6) You see your past as a crucial part of your journey
Some of us have childhoods that were filled with nothing but sunshine and lollipops. Others are nowhere near as lucky.
But there’s one thing that people who are on the right path in life share.
Know what it is?
It’s a feeling of the important role their pasts played in where they are now.
After all, the right path is the one that leads from the past, through the present and into the future.
It doesn’t disappear behind you but stays to let you look back to see the steps that guided you to today.
If you had a particularly bad past, you can at least appreciate how far you’ve come from it.
But if you can find an actual feeling of gratitude for your past, you’ll find some real benefits to both your health and mindset.
7) You celebrate others’ successes
Even outside of the donut shop, I have often found myself envious of other people.
It could be their jobs, their partners, or even their successes.
But luckily, I was actually called out on this by a close friend. He made me realize that it wasn’t about their achievements at all but my own feeling that I wasn’t succeeding.
What did I do about it?
For this and other reasons, I left a very highly-paid job for a career that gave me more flexibility and time to spend with my family.
And you know what? Things flipped.
I stopped feeling jealous of others and actually started feeling genuinely happy for others when they succeeded.
That let me know that I was really going the wrong way before, but now things are lining up well.
8) You’re happy being you
This last one sounds like a no-brainer.
But you’d be surprised how many people think they will be happy if only they can change themselves to be like someone else.
If you find that you’re always comparing yourself to others or, worse, that you’re frequently green with envy, then you’re not feeling yourself.
However, your unique combination of relationships, knowledge, and experience can only ever make up one person.
And having a deep feeling of self- confidence is a surefire way to know that you’re on the right path in your journey.
You know those “What if…?” games people like to play? You know, “What if you had a time machine?”, “What if you could only eat one food for the rest of your life?”
Think about this one:
“What if you could be anyone in the world – who would you be?”
Not have that person’s things or hold their job, but actually be them.
If you think deeply about this and come up with the answer “myself,” what better proof could you want that your life is on the right track?
Are you on the right path?
There are other ways to tell if you’re on the right path in your life, but these are the ones that really resonate with most people.
And even if you’re on the wrong path, these are excellent indications to help you reassess and take steps to get yourself onto the one that will take you where you need to go.