Let’s take a minute to travel back to elementary school.

Think about those neat, tidy rows, desks with the metal legs, smell of crayons, chalk dust and pencil shavings. Maybe you had an American Flag hanging in a corner in the front of the room. Maybe there were colorful infographics hanging on the wall – the alphabet, a map of the United States.

It’s test day (don’t freak out, it’s not a pop quiz) and the teacher is passing around the blank pages of a math test. You’re listening to the familiar test taking preamble.

You have 45 minutes to take this test, mark the answers clearly, use pencil, show all your work, put your name in the top left hand corner of the page and the date in the top right hand corner. If you have any questions, raise your hand.

When you’re done, come up and hand your test in and sit quietly at your desk until everyone is finished. Your work is your own, so make sure you keep your eyes on your own paper. I.e. No cheating.

You might have gone to a school that spelled out its plagiarism policy on the first page and you had to sign it to say you knew you weren’t supposed to cheat and “cross my heart and hope to die” the work is my own.

If mentally traveling back to those days makes you cringe, you’re not alone.

Let’s leave those classrooms behind and keep a jewel for your life today.

Keep your eyes on your own damn paper

What social media profiles do you use daily? Facebook? Twitter? Instagram?

There’s nearly instantaneous access to thousands of peoples lives (edit: curated sharing of people’s lives) at your fingertips.

It is easy to login, see thousands of success stories, small wins, big wins and epic moments in other people’s lives. And it’s easy to say, “what about me? what’s so cool in my life?”

This can turn into a whole string of questions that may appear productive (or not), but what this really does is distract you with a whole bunch of things that are happening outside of yourself.

Why does this matter?

You are your own guru

Who knows your life? Who knows you? Who knows what you want? You do.

No one else does. They may have an inclination, they may have a gut sense, they may share something that totally resonates for you, but it’s you who gets to decide what your path truly is.

You are the captain of your ship. You make the decisions.

If you’re looking outside of yourself for answers all the time, how on earth can you finely tune your own knowing?

The answers are inside. Period.

You may enlist the support of a mentor or coach who can guide you, but even as you are getting their guidance and support, you have to run that information through your own internal process.

Ask: is that true for me? When they say that, does that feel like a yes to me? If their suggestion is off, what is missing?

They may point you in the right direction and give you the insight that you need to hear. Yet, you must choose how to implement their suggestions, decide what is the most important and know if something is going to be a good fit for how you work.

Bottom line: what other people do doesn’t matter

By this, I mean you need to know how to tune into your own internal direction – not by looking at what other people are doing and then say “ahhhhh, I need to be doing all of this stuff to get where I want to go.” No, that is an incorrect approach.

It may be beneficial to see what a bunch of people are doing and then ask yourself, “what is the way for me to move forward? what is an approach that I can use that is aligned with how I want to work?”

Your path is your own path

You must walk your own path. It’s not about doing something the way someone else did it (unless in your heart of hearts you feel like that is the way you need to do it).

It’s so easy to get distracted by what other people are doing and then assume that’s how you need to go about your life and business to get to a certain destination.

You know that saying, “All roads lead to Rome”? Well, it’s the same for you – there are infinite roads and choices to help you get to your intended destination.

Do your life your own way. You’ll be much happier. You’ll also enjoy the process of life much more.

Think about what’s happening in your life right now. Are there areas that you’re doing things a certain way because you feel like it’s how you have to do them to get to your intended destination? What does your body say? What does your heart say? Pull your mind out of the mix for a moment and allow more of yourself to speak and inform your current choices.

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