“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” —Maya Angelou

Some days he makes a strong appearance — especially when I least expect him. While others, he’s no place to be found. Ironically when I need him most.

He tells the checkout lady she has a lovely smile. He goes out of his way to help an old man in the street, or offer a hand to those less fortunate. If there was ever anyone you could depend on, or turn to in your hour of need, it would be him.

I’d recently left the three-year-long party they call college. Although for me it was less revelry and drunken belly laughing and more sulking and sitting in the corner alone. I felt I was already treading the wrong path, heading to a place I didn’t really want to be.

One day, everyone had left the party, and I was left gazing over an immense buffet which spread as far as the eye could see. Yet instead of tucking in, I was crumbling at its feet, paralysed by overwhelm and dying of starvation.

Three years of information and ideas and advice were laid out in front of me. Masters, PHDs, Australia, Latin America, money, business, travel; what did I really want? And who did I want to be?

I couldn’t survive in this state any longer. I needed to make a decision.

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To do this properly I first needed to clear my plate and choose what I wanted, before setting off and tucking in to the big buffet.

So I took a step back, clearing my mind of all the clutter and preset ideals. Soon I was defining exactly who I wanted to be, and acting in a sustainable manner in being that person.

“He” shows up a lot more often now. Even if it doesn’t appear so, he’s there banging on the window begging to be let out.

For being who you want to be is a continual process, a process which all starts with the first step: clearing.

1. Clearing

Generally the first thing you do in making a change — say, in renovating a house — is to clear it of useless junk, outdated furniture, and pretty much anything you either don’t want or don’t need.

Picture that house as your mind. Any scrape or snippet of information you consume is just another little ornament or table lamp or deluxe suite crammed in there.

Clearing your mind of all the unnecessary baggage offers access to preconceived notions or ideals that unconsciously influence your pattern of thinking.

This is where you find yourself questioning your belief that being a ninja is impossible, and realize that taking over the family business is not your destiny, but just another option.

You’re going to hear a lot of things about how you should be or act — particularly from your family and teachers — but the only way to truly know what you want is to dig deep underneath all the skin and subcutaneous fat and electrochemical activity, and rediscover those gut feelings, those inner inclinations, which have so often brought us happiness and bliss in our childhood years.

People find different ways to clear their minds and reconnect with their unique intuition and instincts. From meditation and yoga, to running and cold therapy; try a few out and see which works best for you.

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2. Defining

Once aware of underlying beliefs and free from mind clutter, you’re ready to take the next step: Defining who you want to be.

This can mean many things to many people.

But in its most basic sense — far from deciding you want to be a famous actor or international athlete — it means discovering your true self.

At the heart of this are two things, one of which we touched on in the first step, listening to those inner guiding feelings, and the second being finding appropriate role models.

I don’t know about you but I never had—or for that matter believed I needed—a role model in my life. Looking back, it’s easy to see how I was just as naive as someone with no coach or trainer entering a race they thought they were sure to do well in.

A lack of immediate positive influences and public role models to admire is no longer an obstacle we need to contend with.

Blogs, biographies, life coaches, local media, documentaries; as long as we choose to use the technology and information available at our fingertips, we’ll soon be having coffee with and learning from some of the world’s greatest minds.

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3. Acting

With a fresh perspective and new found sense of direction, you’re primed and ready to take on the world. This is a pivotal time in your journey, a time where many destined to achieve great things flounder like a fish out of water and retreat to the ocean’s depths.

Many factors come into play here — self-sabotage; shiny object syndrome; fear of change — but we’re going to look at the two major barriers you need to conquer in order to begin actualising your new self.

You have all the right ingredients and are fully ready for change — yet you feel something is still keeping you back.

Subconsciously you’re holding out for some sort of cue, sign, or wake up call, that’ll effortlessly propel you into your new state of being.

Not everyone gets a near death experience or sign from the heavens that forces the changes into action, and thus, many continue living in their false reality.

This is your cue.

Change is of course not all sunshine and rainbows and is often difficult and uncomfortable. Many fail to see it through, quickly depleting their willpower and veering back into old habits.

Being who they want to be is not seen as a journey, but rather an ultimate destination.

Make the transition smooth and sustainable by breaking down your ideal self into smaller, more attainable chunks. Day by day, you will see incremental improvements, increasing your confidence, building new habits, and slowly growing into the person you want to be.

One step back and two steps forward and suddenly you’re 100 steps ahead. Wait a minute, what?

The great thing about this process is that it’s an ongoing cycle.

You do it once, and then again, and again, and a few more times, until, well, the last of your days. That way, when you’re lying on your deathbed, you’ll be rejoicing in the thought you don’t hold the most commonly felt regret — that rather you had the courage to life a life true to yourself, not the life others expected of you.

Guide to Inspired Life