So you want to step out in a new life direction. But you’re afraid. That’s normal. Fear often keeps us from moving forward.
What if I showed you the steps needed to move forward with clarity, confidence, and abundant faith to live an authentic life adventure?
First let me acknowledge that I did not follow all of the steps I am about to share with you—not intentionally anyway. Some I had to learn the hard way.
When I stepped away from a secure paycheck as the principal of a Christian school, I had only a vague sense of where I was headed. But as I stumbled through a year with no income and six kids, I learned a few things.
After I moved to Atlanta and helped build a creative agency with a friend, I gained more understanding. And now that I have authored several books and help many people build their stories and get their messages heard, I can look back and see the steps that worked.
Along the way, my faith in God was tested in ways I never thought possible. And I learned lessons that can only be learned one of two ways: the hard way or the easy way.
By hard way, I mean actually taking the bumps and bruises yourself to figure it out. The easy way would be having someone like me share some lessons with you on the front end.
Your authentic life adventure will be different from mine in many ways, but at the core, I believe the process to be essentially the same.
And all of it requires us to step out—at some level—before we know how it all turns out.
The truth is that we often choose our direction in life based on what we think is stable and secure. And that’s not all bad. We are naturally risk-averse, some of us more than others.
So knowing that there is a proven path you can take may help alleviate some of your anxiety about what lies ahead on your authentic life adventure.
7 Steps to Pursue an Authentic Life Adventure
- Choose your destination. This initial step may seem like a no-brainer, but a LOT of people never do it. If you don’t know where you are going, any old path will do. Only when I committed to putting my writing skills to work did I find the focus I needed to start moving in the right direction. It’s the difference between intentional action, which you can control, and accidental drifting, which leaves it all up to someone else. I actually set a 6-year-goal early on in my own journey to give me a big-picture perspective on where I was headed. I am now a little more than half-way through that timeframe. I now have a lot more clarity on that destination, but the general direction has remained unchanged.
- Make the committment. One of the most significant things I did was make the internal decision to develop my gifts—no matter where that might take me. I even shared a devotional with the student body about the power of committment, although no one but me knew the committment I had made. I wrote my commitment down, dated it, and put it where I could see it everyday. The commitment put wheels in motion that would ultimately produce possibilities to pursue the destination I desired. [Read my post “How to Get There from Here” ]
- Craft a plausible plan. Once you know your general direction, you need to create a plan for getting there. It’s been said that a goal without a plan is just a wish. And wishes don’t just come true, no matter how much Disney tells us otherwise. Frankly, I find more people stuck on this step than any other, trying to figure out how to get from here to there. But the more I inquire about why they are stuck, the more I learn that the lack of a plan is often merely an excuse to stay put. Your plan doesn’t need to be perfect. No one is going to grade you on it later. It just needs to be plausible, and the most important to person to believe in it is you; you will be the one to get started and take the first step. Know that as you move forward, you will discover more options that remain hidden to you right now.
- Take the next best step. You can’t stay where you are and get where you want to go. You need to step out before you know how it all turns out. Your motion will reveal your devotion to fulfilling your calling. No one ever lived a story worth telling by playing prevent defense and running out the clock on life. As William Hutchison says, “Whatever you can do or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has magic and power in it.”
- Create a crisis. Human nature is what it is. We generally only move for one of two reasons: we are pushed out or we are pulled forward. In this context, a push may happen when you lose your job, experience an unexpected tragedy, or burn a bridge. When I chose to step forward, I sat down with the co-founder and president of the school and let him know that I could not continue to serve in the same capacity. I explained why I needed to make a change, and did so in a way that let him know he would be unwise to invite me to stay, should I change my mind. While I did not burn the bridge in terms of the relationship, I wanted to make it clear that staying would not be an option. I didn’t know then what that would mean—neither us us did—but if your plan doesn’t require faith in God, it’s not the right plan. I also had a compelling vision that pulled me forward. It was the vision of a new life direction that motivated me to keep moving forward while ensuring I would be pushed to make the change. The compelling vision gave me control of the direction I would go even as I was being pushed. The vision I cast for myself created positive tension that pulled me forward when times got tough.
- Commit to continuous course corrections. If you get nothing else from this process, understand this: you don’t know what you think you know. Consequently, your plan is subject to continuous improvement. Stephen Covey gave the analogy of an airplane as being off-course 99% of the time. Even though the pilot has a destination in mind, he or she must constantly monitor progress and make adjustments in order to reach the destination. So it is with our life direction. No matter how good your plan is, you can’t know what lies ahead, both good and bad. Living an authentic life of abundant faith is more of a process than an event. So be sure to commit to making course corrections regularly and often, while never losing site of your destination. The best path for getting from here to there may well be different from the one you originally had in mind.
- Surround yourself with an authentic faith community. Of all the steps in this process, this one may be both the most important and the most neglected. Here’s why: the journey to live an authentic life of abundant faith requires you to do some tough stuff. Believe me when I say that you will experience a few dark nights of the soul. During those times of testing, both the Enemy and your own fallen nature will conspire to convince you that you are alone. Think of how the prophet Elijah nearly gave in to those inner torments after experiencing a tremendous victory on Mount Carmel. He nearly quit when he began to think that he was all alone. It is a favorite tactic of Satan to convince us we are alone. That is why we need authentic community when our faith is tested. One of the most important moves I made was to enlist a paid life coach to help guide me through the transition. You may want to consider doing the same. Choose your friends wisely during this season, especially early on when your faith is more vulnerable. Your relationships may need to change to ensure you are exposed to people who truly believe that with God all things are possible.
So there you go—a basic framework to find your way forward in your new life direction. Obviously, there is more that could be said about all of it, which is why I enjoy speaking on this topic of finding your life direction and living an authentic life of abundant faith.
If you or your organization could use an authentic speaker to challenge and encourage you and your group on your faith journey, drop me a note here. As I share my story, I can address the topic in a single session or in seminar and retreat settings with multiple sessions.
But whatever you do, take the first step now. Don’t put it off any longer. Life is short. It’s time to live a story worth telling where and when it matters most.
Let’s start now, together.
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