Maps are sooo 1990.
When was the last time you actually cracked open a map? Like, pulled one out of the glovebox, un-accordianed it (yes that’s a word), and spread it out on the dashboard, trying to figure out where the hell you were?
Yep, that’s what I thought. Back in the 90s. These days you’re more likely to ask the GPS where to go. Maps and GPS still have one thing in common, though:
Someone else is telling you where to go.
Yes, this is a metaphor (you got me.) At the end of this article I have a challenge for you that will help you trust your internal navigation system instead of following the maps to life you inherited as a kid. But right now let’s dig into why we should all stop following other people’s maps ASAP.
Why I threw out my map – and why you should too
When I was but a young Tammy in high school, listening to my favourite mixed tape on my Sony Walkman (remember those?) and pinning my permed hair up with those little butterfly clips (remember those?!), my parents and teachers handed me a map to life that looked like this:
High School –> University –> Career –> Married —> Dog —> House —> Kids —> Retirement
You probably got a similar one. They’re pretty popular.
Did it work out for me? Hell no. I wasn’t happy trying to live that kind of life. I was a small town girl with a wanderlust heart, impatient to get out and see the big world.
I only started loving my life once I stopped chasing after the things I thought I “should” do, and started following my gut. I got out there and went to the places I was being called to – Africa and Australia. I saw the world. I lived the life I wanted, not the one I’d been told to want.
See, the problem with following someone else’s map is that you’ll always be scared to lose it, or go off-road. If your life doesn’t look like the map (oh my god I should have chosen my career by this age! I should be married with 2 adorable well behaved children and a kitchen full of Le Creuset pans!), you’ll panic and wonder what the hell is wrong with you.
There’s nothing wrong with you. You’re just trying to follow a map to a destination you don’t even want to go to.
Imagine you’re on holiday on the sun-drenched Italian coast (mmmm.) You’re hungry, and you’ve just found out about a cosy little known-only-to-the-locals restaurant serving the most authentic cuisine in a 20 mile radius. But someone else is haranguing you to leave that sunny little town with its delicious recipes handed down through generations of Italian families, and hike over to the nearest city to find a McDonald’s. Would you go? No! You’d say “you go eat your dubious burger and fries that taste like plastic. I’m gonna go enjoy rich marinara sauce, fresh brewed espresso, and mouth-watering tiramisu, thanks.”
This doesn’t just apply to no-brainer decisions like rich home cooked food vs fast food. You know what you want in all areas of your life. Sometimes you just lose sight of it.
You already own the perfect compass – and it knows what you need
We’ve all experienced that GPS system that repeatedly takes you in the wrong direction, right? Like this one time I was driving a long stretch of road to my friend’s house in the country, and my GPS suddenly decided I should go left. Into the dark, deserted, dense Canadian woods. Where bears or ghosts or potentially murderous clowns might be lurking.
What made the most sense in that situation? Following my own knowing, that said “um, actually I think I’ll just keep driving down the actual road to my actual destination that I want to get to”, or thinking “the GPS said it so it must be true” and driving on into the Deserted Woods Of Hell No?
It sounds simple, even funny, but the same kickass compass inside you that knows not to drive into the clown-infested woods, knows EXACTLY where you need to be and how you’re gonna get there.
I like to think we all have soul-agreed ‘must stop here’ moments in life. The deepest, most mysterious parts of us scripted those moments because we wanted to learn and experience certain things in life. For me, those stops so far have been having cancer as a child, traveling to Australia and Africa, and becoming a Life & Death Coach. I truly believe all of these were scripted just for me, to help me learn lessons about vitality, strength, beauty, perspective, adventure, and openness.
You can make your journey to your soul’s must-haves much easier by paying attention to your internal compass.
Start checking in with your internal compass, like yesterday – here’s how
This is a rallying cry: Stop living your life on autopilot. Stop doing things because your Mom said you should or everyone else is doing it or uncle Joe will be really disappointed if you don’t follow his advice. From here on out, try checking in with your internal compass once in a while. And by once in a while I mean all the damn time.
I’ve got two exercises and a challenge to get your navigation system kick-started.
First, try this: Whenever you feel burned out, unenthusiastic, or have a serious case of “eff this, I’m just gonna watch Netflix”, take a moment and ask yourself:
- What do I want to do or experience?
- How do I want to feel?
- Where do I feel called to go next?
- What desires lie deep inside my soul?
Journal your answers, v-log them, or just sit with them. Listen for the direction your internal compass is trying to show you.
You can also try this: Write a list of all the times you followed your inner prompting and it worked out for you. That time you trusted your gut about a person and were proved right. The time it felt like you were being divinely guided. Those times are a soul-souvenir, a reminder that your internal compass knows what’s up. Refer back to your list whenever you doubt your own wisdom and inner guidance.
Challenge: Get lost this week
Want some practice listening to your internal compass? Then I challenge you to get lost this week.
This is one of my favourite things to do when travelling, as the spirit of exploration and unknown fuels my soul’s desire for adventure. One of my favourite memories was traveling in Spain with my dear friend. She was glued to her map and I urged her to put it away and only use ‘in case of emergency’. She agreed and we had the most wonderful day getting completely lost in the beauty of Sevilla, wandering winding cobblestone streets with no signs and only our sense of adventure to guide us. Every tiny tapas restaurant, courtyard fountain, and colourful local shop confirmed that the adventurer’s way is absolutely the right way.
So this week, get lost!
You can wander around your own town or city, or take an adventure out of town. Toss aside maps and plans and just see where the spirit of adventure takes you. If you don’t feel like travelling right now, try putting away your to-do list and having an afternoon where your feelings and thoughts guide you to what feels right and nourishing.
Say YES to yourself (and life!) and see where the adventure leads!
Want to learn how to trust yourself and make decisions with wayyyy greater ease and clarity? Schedule a Discovery Session and get 60 minutes live with me to get you started listening to your internal compass, plus a complementary download of my expert navigation system, the Core Values Assessment (warning: may result in getting unstuck and going after what you really want in life.)