I was listening to the Awesome with Alison podcast the other day and she spoke about how defining things can help you to feel better about your life. And it was funny because I’d been doing that same thing recently without realising what I was doing and why it was helping me to feel better.
And so, now that I have a name for it, I want to explain to you guys how defining things in your life properly can help you to feel happier and healthier and ready to go.
What does “define” mean?
“state or describe exactly the nature, scope, or meaning of.”
“mark out the boundary or limits of.”
So, being able to accurately define things in your life can help you to know what you actually want and what success in that area actually looks like for you.
Let me explain…
How definitions help us in life:
- Clarity: When you can accurately, and simply, define things in your life, you can have a clearer head about those things. You know for sure what’s going on, what’s important, and where your focus needs to be.
- Goals: When you have definitions for your life, it’s easier to then know what your goals are, why, and how to achieve them on a personal level.
- Purpose: Much like goals, having set definitions will help to know your purpose; to know what it looks like to go after your North Star.
- Comparison: When we know our definitions in life, and we believe them confidently, we care less what others think or what their definitions are for them.
So, what is it in our lives that we need to “define” and why? Here are my ideas…
Define your fears
I put this one first because, for me, it’s hard to know what you’re afraid of. I mean, what you’re actually afraid of.
The other day I was feeling very anxious and I told my partner as much. He then asked, and rightly so, “what is making you anxious?” And I struggled to find the answer. I wanted to say “I just feel anxious, okay? Now fix me!” but that wouldn’t be fair or right.
Yes, with general anxiety disorder, it can be that you feel anxious without a real reason. But how often do we try to find the reason? How often do we just sit in our fear and let it overwhelm us?
Instead, DEFINE YOUR FEARS.
This is the only way to get past them or at least allow them to have less power over you.
When I got real with myself and looked inward, I knew that I was afraid of being unhappy. Afraid of feeling overwhelmed and unsure with the new things coming into my life. Knowing this, having the right words, the right definitions for it, helped to relieve some of the anxiety right away.
Because, I often find that hiding the anxiety or ignoring it, or worse feeding it, is the best way to make it worse.
But when we define and shine a light on the truth of our fears, they seem a lot less scary.
And it might not be what you think it is when you get honest with yourself…
- You’re not afraid of the dark, you’re afraid of the unknown things lurking in the dark.
- You’re not afraid of heights, you’re afraid of falling.
- You’re not afraid of water, you’re afraid of drowning/being lost at sea.
More often than not, our fears can be reduced down to one of these:
- Fear of not being good enough
- Fear of vulnerability (being out of control, unknown situations, failure, embarrassment, loneliness etc)
The only reason I fear being unhappy in my life is because I fear that I won’t be good enough to make my life what I want/need it to be.
Define what success is for you
The next one is perhaps simpler. We all want to be successful, but what does success actually look like for you? Because the thing is, success for me probably isn’t the same as it is for you.
Success for me is being a published, selling author. To make a living writing stories and sharing them with the world.
When I actually define it, there is no certain amount of money that I want. No certain awards or whatever. I just want to feel happy doing what I love, which is writing, and to make a living doing it. Because that would feel like an appropriate challenge, happiness, freedom, creativity, self-expression, and so many other things for me.
I believe that would grant me the life I want for me and my family.
So, what does success look like for you when you’re really honest with yourself? When you stop thinking about what society or your family (or whoever) might say?
Define what happiness is for you
And, in case your idea of success and happiness aren’t exactly the same, it’s important to define what happiness is for you. What makes you happy? What brings you joy? What would your daily life need to be like for you to feel generally happy and content?
- A happy, healthy family
- Freedom to travel and experience life/the world to the fullest
- Ability to be creative
- Support from great people
- Seeing my books in stores
- Inspiring others
We can’t be happy all the time, as it is an emotion, but we can be content or satisfied with life to the point where we’re not looking for a fix all the time. So, what would that look like for you?
Define what “enough” is for you
And lastly, what does “enough” look like for you. This is a big one that Alison spoke about on her podcast. We all fear that we aren’t good enough. Not pretty enough, smart enough, cool, interesting, rich, experienced, whatever-enough.
But what does “enough” even mean for you and your life?
What would your life (or your day) have to include for you to feel like you and your life are “enough” enough?
- To know that I tried my best
- To have made someone smile
- To have taken even a small step towards my goals and dreams
- To show love to the people I care about
- To have given to myself in some way for health and happiness (reading, journaling, yoga, jogging, writing, creating)
- When I picture my most successful life, what does it actually look like?
- What does success look like for today only?
- What does a happy life look like to me?
- What would a happy day look like?
- What are the origins/root of my fears? (define first, approach a solution/new mindset after)
- What does it mean to be enough? Have enough? Do enough? How can I define what “doing my best” really looks like?
Other things you could Define:
- What a good relationship looks like for you
- What a productive day realistically looks like for you
- What being a good person looks like for you
- Financial stability looks like
- Good health looks like
- Balance looks like
And then, hold on to your definitions and follow your own rulebook.
Life isn’t a dictionary where there are set definitions that we all need to live by. Set your own definitions and do your best. You got this.