Let’s start with the elephant in the room. We need to be crystal clear on what living for yourself is NOT about. Living for yourself isn’t about having a screw-you attitude toward other people. It’s not about treating other people badly or neglecting them. Here’s an important point to remember. You can still love and care for other people and live for yourself.
When I talk about living for yourself, I’m talking about living according to your values and going after what you want (as opposed to living someone else’s values and doing only what other people want).
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Here is a list of ways to live for yourself and not live solely for other people.
Get to know yourself
The more you get to know yourself, the more you can live for yourself.
When you live for yourself, you know your strengths, joys, weaknesses, habits, emotional triggers, and limiting beliefs.
When you know yourself, self-awareness, self-discipline, and self-worth come together to make you who you are. When you truly know yourself, you can strive for improvement, growth, and real change.
Three great books that can help you get to know yourself –
The Mountain is You: Transforming Self-Sabotage into Self-Mastery by Brianna Wiest
How Are You, Really? Living You Truth One Answer At a Time by Jenna Kutcher
Burn After Writing by Sharon Jones (This is an excellent little journal for getting in touch with your past, present, and future). This journal really got me thinking!!
Make yourself a priority in your life
This is YOUR life so it makes sense that you should be a priority in it.
You need to take care of yourself to be able to take care of others. If you are a parent, you might be thinking I can’t make myself a priority, I have two kids!
While I am not in that position myself, I appreciate where that feeling is coming from. I can’t even imagine how much you have on your plate!
But you can’t take care of others properly when you are miserable, angry, or exhausted.
You need to be there for your children and that requires a lot of patience, energy, and understanding. When you are completely drained and spent, you don’t have any of that.
You need to find some time to make yourself a priority.
Related post – How to Make Yourself a Priority in Your Life
Live your own values
One very important way to live for yourself is to live your values. The key word to focus on here is to live YOUR values.
Many of us know our values but don’t live them, which results in internal turmoil and stress.
On top of that, often our values conflict with one another which causes frustration and yee-ha more stress!
It’s important to work out what your values actually are (not just what you think they are), then live as close to those values as possible.
Mark Mason has a thought-provoking article on values over on his website – Personal Values: How to Know Who You Really Are.
Don’t let your family take over your life
If you are a parent and have children, then your children are one of the most important things in your life. That’s perfectly normal but not what I’m talking about here.
While supporting our families and being close to them is important, it’s important that we don’t let them take full control of our lives, to the point that we are completely miserable. You don’t want it to get to the point where you are angry and full of resentment towards your family.
Related post – Don’t Let Anyone Else Define Your Worth
Stop being a people pleaser
When we constantly put our own thoughts, feelings, and wants aside and say yes to what everyone else wants, we transform into a people-pleaser.
While you might think being a people pleaser is the path to happiness because people pleasing is about making other people happy, it can actually be the expressway to misery. People pleasing can lead to deep-seated anger that often goes unacknowledged until some long-building tension erupts.
If you are a people pleaser who is ready to change your life, buy yourself a book or two in my post 6 Books to Help Stop Being a People Pleaser.
Ditch the guilt
You are entitled to your own life. You are allowed to live your own life. This shouldn’t be something that you feel guilty about.
If you feel guilty for every decision you make about your life, then you are not living for yourself. If your life is governed by guilt, then clearly something is out of balance and needs to change.
Related post – 20 Ways to Stop Feeling Guilty All of the Time
Don’t hand your life over to someone on a silver platter
When I was young, naive, and in love for the first time, my life became all about my boyfriend.
Without realizing it, I handed my life over on a silver platter. We listened to his music, hung out with his friends more than mine, and did things that he wanted to do.
It wasn’t until I got a bit older, and started thinking about what I wanted for MY life (instead of what would make my boyfriend happy) that I realized I needed to work on living for myself.
Don’t get bogged down in blaming other people
If you are not living for yourself, you might fall into the trap of blaming other people for the circumstances of your life.
It can be easier to blame other people for our missteps and mistakes than to take responsibility for ourselves. If we blame others we don’t have to take action or try to change or do any of the hard work that will actually make a difference in our lives.
When we blame others we can just complain endlessly and continue to do nothing. This might seem like an appealing option but it doesn’t get us anywhere. It makes us more miserable and keeps us stuck in a rut.
If this is you then it’s time to ditch the blaming.
Be responsible for yourself
To live for yourself means being responsible for yourself.
This includes paying your bills, making those big life decisions, and taking care of your health. This doesn’t mean we can’t delegate tasks, get advice from other people and get help when we need it. When we truly value ourselves we are open to all of those things because we know being responsible isn’t about having to do everything ourselves.
Being responsible means dealing with our problems (instead of running away from them), and making sure our bad habits don’t overrun our lives. Being responsible also means reaching out for professional help when we need it.
Stop putting your life on hold for others
There are times when we need to take extra care of the people who are important in our lives.
Taking care of an elderly parent or parents for example can involve some big sacrifices and adjustments to our normal lives. But we do it because we care about the people that we love.
While this can mean big changes to our lives, hopefully (depending on your individual circumstances) it doesn’t mean putting your life completely on hold. It may mean making compromises that work for both parties.
What we want to avoid doing is using our decision to help others as an excuse for giving up on our lives entirely.
Work out exactly what you want
Do you know what you want in life? Or are you simply going along with someone else’s plan for your life?
Are you doing all the standard things, like going to uni, climbing the corporate ladder, getting married, and having kids because that’s what you think is expected of you?
Are these things really what you want or are they just things you think you ‘should’ want?
It’s important that you take the time to work out what you want for yourself.
If you are struggling with your shoulds, here’s a book that can help – F the Shoulds. Do the Wants: Get Clear on Who You Are, What You Want and Why You Want it by Tricia Huffman. I haven’t read this book yet but it looks good and is definitely on my future reading list. 🙂
Do more of what makes you happy
What percentage of your time do you spend doing things that make you happy? Are feelings of joy and happiness a regular, consistent part of your life?
Or is your life more about doing things that make you unhappy and drain your energy?
To dive deeper into the topic of happiness read How to Do More of What Makes You Happy.
Know your worth
To truly live for yourself, you need to know your worth.
A strong sense of self-worth is your internal compass. It’s your inner core that gets you through tough times and helps you get back up again after a setback.
Books that can help you increase your self-worth –
You Are A Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero
Radical Confidence: 10 Lessons on Becoming the Hero of Your Own Life by Lisa Bilyeu
How to Stop Feeling Like Sh*t: 14 Habits That Are Holding You Back from Happiness by Andrea Owen (This is one of my favorites, I had a lot of A-ha moments reading this book and it helped me a lot!)
Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before: Everyday Tools for Life’s Ups and Downs by Dr. Julie Smith
Live for yourself
Believe in yourself. Believe in your ability to be the leader of your own life. When you live for yourself, you are more able to be there for the important people in your life. When you live for yourself, you are not held back by resentment and anger but instead driven by motivation, opportunity, and integrity.
Be yourself. Live for yourself.
Read Next – 12 Important Things to Remember When You Feel Not Good Enough