DEFINING YOUR NORTH STAR
#1: Decide What’s Most Important
Before the advent of satellites and GPS - even before the invention of the compass - our ancestors could find their way by looking up at the night sky to see Polaris, otherwise known as the north star. Despite Earth’s rotation, Polaris is the only star you’ll see that stays fixed in one spot. And whether our ancestors were wandering lost in a desert or being tossed around on the high seas, they could always be guided by that one point of light in the night. Every person on this planet has their own unique set of priorities. Too few people, though, live every day of their lives being guided by their priorities. In the frenzy that has become life in our modern world, it’s easy to lose our way in a sea of external expectations or to be pushed around by the winds of what we’re expected to do. But our greatest opportunity for happiness is to be true to what’s most important to us. Ask yourself: How do I want to spend my precious time here? What ideals should I hold onto? What will I refuse to settle for? What can I see bigger than me that’s worth giving myself to? And what is meaningful enough for me to make time for? Living by your own answers to questions like these is how you get to truly know yourself. And knowing yourself is the only north star you’ll ever need.
#2: Acknowledge the Cost of What’s Most Important
Once you’ve determined those few things that are the most important guiding forces in your life, it’s useful to have a tough talk with yourself. Choice in an inescapable part of living. And whenever you choose one thing, you always give up something else. The inherent design of life is full of “can’t have it both ways” moments. We’re energized when we recognize what we gain from a choice. But equally important, we ground ourselves in reality when we acknowledge what we give up when we make a choice. That… is the antidote for self-delusion. Our never-ending calculus, of course, is to justify the cost of our choices with the aspiration of what we hope those choices will bring. Inevitably, though, our calculations won’t be accurate 100% of the time… and we’ll find that sometimes the only way to discover that is to just make a choice and learn from it.
#3: Don’t Be Afraid to Change Course
There isn’t a soul among us who hasn’t at some point said to themselves after making a choice, “What was I thinking?” This doesn’t mean that we’re idiots… it just means that we’re students of life. But unhappiness and quiet desperation often come to those who are either too prideful to admit they were wrong about a choice or too fearful or lethargic to make a course correction. What’s perfect for us at one stage of life can be wrong for us at another stage. The force of change that’s built into life itself is unstoppable. Even our north star, Polaris - because of slow changes in Earth’s orbit - will eventually no longer be the north star. 13,000 years from now, a star called Vega will be the new north star. The point is, it’s important to set your life’s course by whatever star inspires you… but all the while remembering that as your priorities evolve, the time will come to reset your course by a new star. Our time here is never wasted, though. From course to course… from one inspiration to the next… we all follow a natural progression that leads us down an eternal path of evermore spectacular inspiration.
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