How to Know When You’re On the Right Path

A Misty Path in the WoodsWhen I was 18 and started playing poker seriously.

I wanted money. To me, money symbolized freedom. With money I could do anything. I could travel, relax and have fun.

I thought a certain amount of money would make me happy. But when I finally reached that monetary goal, I realized happiness wasn’t found in money, or anything external for that matter.

I had read books that exclaimed happiness was found within, but it wasn’t until I realized it myself that it started making sense.

I’m all for listening to solid advice and having a good mentor, but you still have to make a lot of mistakes on your own. You won’t get through life by avoiding mistakes.

I’ve been making mistakes on my own ever since I was 18. It took me several years to realize that the fastest way to make progress is to take action and be okay with making mistakes, all the time.

At a Crossroads: Choosing a Path

After a while of playing poker, I started to realize that it wasn’t something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I had come to a crossroad and I didn’t know where to go, because the possibilities where seemingly unlimited.

The reason for my overwhelm happened because I tried to use my logical mind to find my path. It wasn’t until I started listening to my heart and doing what I truly enjoy that everything started falling into place.

I stopped worrying about the right path and I started doing what I enjoyed in each moment. This wasn’t something that came easily. I still struggle with this and I think I will be struggling for the rest of my life. The trick is to be okay with struggling, because it will always be there.

What calmed me down was the fact that I stopped thinking of my path as an isolated road from where I could never go back or jump to another path. I started imagining my paths running parallel to each other. I could jump around and try other things whenever I wanted to.

The anxiety I had was entirely self-created. At that moment something clicked. I realized that what I really wanted to do was play around with websites, write and help people. I listened to my heart and started learning how.

I found a resource that filled me with curiosity and excitement. Following your heart is simple. It’s easy to increase the complexity in your life, but once you realize everything really is as simple as following your heart, a new world opens up to you.

Overcoming Obstacles

Following this path hasn’t been a walk in the park. I run into obstacles all the time, but what has changed is how I view my obstacles. Instead of looking at them as something that is there to stop me from achieving what I want, I now look at my obstacles as challenges.

They help me grow and understand life better. I have gone from despising obstacles to looking forward to them. The more criticism I receive, the faster I’ll learn. If someone says something bad about my blog, my products or anything I’ve created, I can now look at it objectively and determine if it is true or if the person is just projecting.

There have been times when the going has gotten so tough that I have doubted my path. Should I really be doing this? Or are these obstacles here to tell me that I should be heading in another direction?

I use very simple methods to solve problems like this. I listen to my heart and look at if I am still excited about what I am doing. If the answer is yes, I keep going.

Ever since I have discovered the power of following my heart, everything has become much simpler. I still use my logical mind, but it no longer is in the driver’s seat as it used to. There’s no need for me to try and make sense of everything. My heart knows best.

How I Deal With the Really Rough Days

But what about the really tough times where you feel like you’re going nowhere?

For me, those times have been more in my mind than anywhere else. They aren’t really there. They are what I call “down days”, as they just seem to happen and go away. The best way to take advantage of them is to learn what they are trying to tell you.

There are days when I feel horrible. I’m afraid, frustrated and angry at the world. It feels like everyone is against me and nothing is going right. When this happens, I take a deep breath and acknowledge what is going on.

I often take a day off observing my thoughts. This may seem counter-intuitive as you’re probably accustomed topush your thoughts away when they aren’t pleasant, but if you want to get rid of them, you have to learn what’s going on.

I may do a bit of walking, meditating, talking to Ingela or my friends. These are activities that help me. You have to find what works for you.

When I’m feeling bad, I often find that my ego is not entirely happy. It’s not getting what it wants,  being validated enough, making enough money, or getting enough traffic.

When I look at these thoughts, I realize that they are almost always unfounded. When I switch my focus from service-to-self to service-to-others, I experience a dramatic shift. Now, sometimes all of this doesn’t work, which is when I try to be okay with my thoughts and go about my day.

The Secret

It’s easy for me to look at other people and compare myself to them. I’ve learned that the only way I’m going to be happy is if I follow my own path and guidance.

Once you step into your own space and are confident enough to follow your heart, you will feel an incredible sense of freedom. You will no longer be overwhelmed with all the options out there, because you know that the only thing you have to do is listen to your heart.

This is how I know I’m on the right path. Every day I wake up, I feel grateful to be doing what I’m doing. If you’re not at this place yet, that’s completely okay.

Stop trying to find ways to put yourself down. It’s cool to not be a superstar right away. Realize what is going on. These are just habits that aren’t serving you. If you’re doing your best and moving towards what you feel good about, you’re on the right path.

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Comments

  1. really inspiring tips henri

  2. Henri,
    I found that other people make you feel like you should be “on the right path”. Then when you try to focus on your passion instead of the right path, people seem to judge you.

    I’ve had to deal with this during college but now that I’m about to graduate, I feel like I have a whole new chapter of my life about to start.

    I definitely see graduation as an obstacle because I need to get a job while pursing my entrepreneurial endeavors. I like how you said you’ve gone from despising obstacles to looking forward to them.

    I want to feel this way. I guess I need to focus on whats important in my life instead of worry about everything.

    Thanks for the inspiring post.

  3. Someone may read your post and say, “sure it’s easier said than done for you because you’ve made it.”

    However you’ve turned any frustration into fascination as Jim Rohn would say. Why would your obstacles or frustrations be fascinating? Because you’re inspired based on the clarity you have around your purpose right now. Your purpose apparently comes from being clear on your values and what you hold highest in you consciousness.

    I’ve already mentioned before today that, “Where clarity prevails, purpose can lead and action will follow.”

    It’s the difference between one person requiring motivation externally everyday and another person being inspired every morning. The inspired person is clear on their values and the philosophies surrounding them.

    I think it’s outstanding that you’ve found what “inspires” you and you’re clearly conscious of it. (As well as the valleys that may come with hitting your peaks within your passion)

    Truly a post from consciousness. This is my first time reading your blog. Digging it and your stream of consciousness.

    • Excellent comment, Tony! It’s always easier once “you’ve made it”, but from where I stand, I don’t feel like I’ve made it. This is just another stepping stone on my own path.

      The grass is always greener on the other side. It may look easier, but it isn’t. But just because it requires work, doesn’t mean it isn’t fun ;)

  4. Henri,

    I like this post a lot. It shows how someone who is doing this pretty successfully can have bad days as well.

    I have my slow days, a few good days, but I have to change my approach to those few down days. I need to go with the flow and accept it. Every day is a new day.

  5. Hi Henri,
    Someone told me once that the secret to happiness was to let your heart decide the “what” and your head decide the “how”. That sounds like the approach you’ve taken. The best thing about this approach is that, as you’ve pointed out, if you’re following your heart then chances are you’ll be doing something you enjoy, so the obstacles (and there are always obstacles!) become challenges rather than insurmountable hurdles. It’s lovely to see you write with such passion and honesty about what you do!
    Topi

  6. I really like this post Henri.

    I really want to become a full time blogger and I know it will happen deep within my heart because I want to help people in different ways and show them they can achieve anything, just as I am going to achieve becoming a blogger.

    I know I need money right now so I have to look for a job and blogging isn’t going to provide income just yet and that’s ok. I would rather build trust and good quality relationships with people through time and make money that gradually builds up because I’m truly helping them than just to make a quick buck.

    Following your heart is going to lead you to exactly where you’re suppose to be. If you’re not going there than you will find that out as you’re living your life.

    Your heart will never leave you astray.

    What do you think?

  7. Hey Henri,

    I agree – just keep moving forward. I think it’s good to reassess where we are going at regular intervals, but we can’t keep second guessing ourselves all the time

    There will always be moments where we are unsure, and there will be moments when we are more sure – but the only way to find out is to at least spend some time on the path ;)

  8. Henri,

    I think most people who are self-aware go though the same trials and tribulations. Maturity comes with life experiences and the more you experience, the more you realize that people are basically the same with the same fears and self-doubts.

    “The trick is to be okay with struggling”. This is a key statement because no one is going to be able to go through life without making mistakes, without struggling and self-doubt. No one is immune. But, as you say, if you listen to what your heart is telling you, you can’t go wrong. No one can make the decisions for you, nor should they. This journey is yours and no one else’s.

    I quite agree that there are so many opportunities out there to live our lives. We choose one path and wonder if it’s the right one. Maybe we should be on the one over there? Or the one beside us? It’s okay to look around and see so many paths that we could have taken, but knowing that there are so many paths ahead of us is more benefical and exciting. No one path will get us to the end.

    Karen

  9. I agree with Ed. This is really inspiring Henri.

    I’ve read this post now 3 times in Google reader. I didn’t have the time to reply yesterday, but it doesn’t mean I don’t read what you have to say every day.

    Remember Henri, sometimes just because you can not see things with your eyes yet, does not mean those things do not exist.

    I believe in you. I hope you have a wonderful Easter!

  10. Mark Dowdell says:

    I agree wholeheartedly about what you’re saying about seeing your path as an isolated, one way street. I’ve had trouble dealing with this problem, too. It’s a matter of looking at your path as a series of intersecting points, where you can branch off at any time, rather than a single, linear direction.

    I actually just wrote a post all about figuring out direction. Strange coincidence.

    Nice post, Henri.

  11. Actually most of us need to choose our path every day. After all, we need to choose between happiness and boredom, kindness and indifference whenever we wake up.
    As for life course, nobody really knows which is the best path, until we see the result.

  12. Archan Mehta says:

    Henri,

    Responsibility=response+ability. That is, your ability to respond to challenges.

    For example, you are presented with stimulus. This stimulus can be X, Y, Z.

    Now, answer this question: How will you choose?

    Will you choose to react? Or, will you choose to respond? Tell us about it, please.

    Once, I went out for a walk and came up against a roadblock. There was no way to move forward. I felt frustrated, because I love the outdoors and walking is one of my favorite hobbies. When I am walking, I feel on top of the world. And yet, I could not move forward.

    There were construction workers telling me to leave: they were trying to build a new road, because the old one had too many pot-holes and other issues. I was paralyzed because I let my emotions ride roughshod over sound judgment.

    I threw a temper tantrum, but that did not resolve the problem. I was wrong, because I chose to react.

    After a while, I gathered my thoughts, and tried to find a solution. Why did I want to move forward? I asked myself. Moving forward was not at all the objective of this exercise. The goal was to take a walk in the park.

    So, I traveled by a different road, a dirt road, which was close at hand. And I could still take a nice stroll, get some exercise, and enjoy natural beauty. Here, I chose to respond instead of react. Response is creative; reacting is negative.

    The moral of the story is: before making a decision, ask yourself two questions.

    Will I choose to react?
    Or will I choose to respond?

    Try not to make the mistakes I have made, over time. Getting upset like I did will not resolve any problems; nor will it win over new friends. Your old friends will try to keep you away, at arm’s length, thinking of you as “too emotional or even cynical.”

    Reading your post reminded me of this experience. Thanks. And cheers to you!

  13. Hey Henri,

    I just discovered this post when browsing your site. You haven proven yourself to be a mind reader. Haha! I just wrote a very similar article at Fearless for Life: How to Fail and Succeed You seem to know what I’m going to write before I do. Maybe I should read WUC first. Lol. Keep being awesome!

    Steve

  14. Angelo Bradley says:

    Very inspiring. Ever since I returned to my hometown I’ve been wondering if I’m on the right path….I love music and have been obsessed with it my entire life. Starting out as an avid collector…making mixtapes in grade school…writing a bit about it in college and now making it….with the production end of things just kinda falling into my lap because I was bored one summer haha.

    But it is a bit discouraging when others don’t respond to what you’re doing in the way that you wish they would…I think the ultimate depressor for me is the lack of external appreciation for my work though I think it’s pretty awesome. And I can honestly say I know what it’s like to be on both sides of the fence so I understand that some people just don’t care for what I’m doing or just aren’t impressed. But the ones who are are creative like-minds that I believe in and it does help that they believe in me…with all that said I just wanted to say that I absolutely agree with you that you have to find a way to maintain that internal inspiration that propelled you down your chosen path…the external appreciation will come eventually as you get better at what you do or as you get better at directing your efforts to specific audiences.

    It’s all a learning experience and since deciding to really focus on music I’ve grown in ways that I couldn’t have imagined when I started that one lazy summer.

    neways…great article and good luck my friend
    peace

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