By Natalie Rivera
There’s nothing that boils my blood more than unrequited dreams and wasted potential. I can’t stand it. I meet so many people with so much to offer—talents and creativity and passion—yet who settle for less than all they can be. I used to be one of them, and then one day I ignited a fire within me that grew from a warm glow to a raging inferno. Along my journey I discovered my greatest passion and purpose in life—to stoke the embers of others’ souls and inspire them to embrace the flame within!
Today I invite you to join me. I give you permission to live life to the fullest—to ignite a life on fire!
It may sound intense and scary—many people don’t go after their dreams because they’re afraid they’ll get burned. But what other way is there to live? Are you willing to settle? To live a life unfulfilled? Or, are you ready to let your light shine—to share your gifts and passions with the world? Are you ready to feel fully alive—fully YOU? Are you ready to finally unleash the fire within?
It is time.
Below you will find the insights I have discovered and passionately preach through everything I do as a speaker and writer and entrepreneur. Ignite a Life on Fire by freeing the real you to embrace your passions, live your purpose, own your power, and create your dreams!
1) Be authentically YOU, own it, and don’t apologize!
In order to be all that you can be, you first have to be YOU. You absolutely must sit down with yourself and determine which aspects of your life, choices, beliefs, and self identity are TRULY YOU, and which are influenced or programmed by your family, friends or society.
Un-domesticate yourself. When you notice you are conforming to what others think, ask yourself if it feels right to you. Be willing to take a stand for what YOU believe in. Be authentic. But, don’t fall into the trap of rebelling by trying to be different—just like everyone else. Your value comes from what makes you uniquely YOU.
Get other people out of your head. Eliminate the word “should” from your vocabulary. When you hear that voice in your head urging you to do something because you “should,” recognize that it’s someone else’s voice. If YOU truly believed it, you wouldn’t feel a nagging sensation that you SHOULD; you’d feel a confident knowing that you MUST—in order to live in integrity with the true you.
2) Embrace Your Passions.
Ask yourself: What do I love? What am I drawn to? What pisses me off? What makes me enthusiastic about life? The key is to figure out what are the MOST CRITICAL factors to your happiness and well being? Write down as many passions as you can think of that answer the following question:
When my life is ideal, I am (or have) ______________
Now go through the list and compare each one to all others to determine which one is more important. Then live your life according to these priorities.
3) Live Your Purpose.
Do what you ARE. If you do, you will love what you do. Ask yourself: what comes easily to me that others find difficult? What am I naturally drawn do? What could I do for hours and feel in-flow when time passes quickly? What skills or talents have I developed through the experiences of my life that could serve me well? What would I enjoy doing so much that I would do it even if I didn’t get paid? The key to living your purpose is to merge your passions and talents into a deeply fulfilling career or meaningful extracurricular activity.
Find the purpose in the pain. Often the most difficult experiences of life ignite our passions and add meaning to our lives. Rather than cursing your hurdles, past and present, acknowledge how they challenge you to grow and expand. Reflect and see if you can follow the path that unfolded from the incident and how blessings arose out of the ashes.
4) Own Your Power.
The greatest tool you have at your disposal is the power of your mind. Like I mentioned above, you need to get other people out of your head so that you can hear YOUR true voice, and then choose the thoughts that will create the life you desire.
The difference between a life of mediocrity and a life on fire lies in the dominion of choice.
Empower your beliefs. As children it is natural and easy to adopt the limiting beliefs of our parents—mind viruses—and into adulthood we tend to pick up even more pesky and damaging beliefs from our friends and society at large. But a belief is just a thought you keep thinking, so the good news is that you have the power to change them.
Start by making a list of at least 10 things you believe that you know limit you. For example, “I can’t do what I really love for a career because a) there is too much competition, b) there is not any money in it or c) my parents would never approve.”
Then, think of as many examples as possible that prove your belief wrong. It’s like knocking the legs out from under a table. Eventually, it falls. For the example above, think of people who DO love what they do AND get paid well for it and/or live happy lives, regardless of others’ beliefs.
Finally, after your negative belief has been dismantled and you have enough doubt, find a new belief to replace it with that feels good, such as “If I go after what I really want, I’ll be successful because most people talk themselves out of it. There isn’t so much competition after all, and now that I think of it, I can come up with ways of increasing my income even in a “low paying” field. I must do this—it’s written into the purpose of my soul. And if I do what I love, even those who disagree will come around when they see how happy and successful I become.”
Empower your focus. The content of your thoughts and beliefs directs your actions and ultimately creates your life.
From a psychological perspective you may have heard of the “self-fulfilling prophecy” which tells us that we will end up creating exactly what we believe about ourselves because of our expectations. For example, if you continuously worry about an upcoming test and imagine you will do poorly, you will do poorly because of the anxiety you produce and its interference with your cognitive functioning.
At a scientific level, the reticular activation system (RAS) in your brain ensures you’ll fulfill your prophecy. It is the region of your brain that focuses. With millions of stimuli at every moment, the RAS limits your range of focus to a small number of stimuli—to keep you from going crazy. What we think about is what the RAS will narrow our awareness onto. This is why when we think about red cars we suddenly see red cars everywhere. So, if the thoughts you’re thinking ignite your RAS to be on the lookout for what you’re expecting, you want to choose your thoughts carefully. If you’re in a crowd and you’re thinking of how terrible your hair looks, you’ll quickly notice people looking at you funny, while if you were thinking about how on fire you look, you’ll notice those who look at you with eyes of appreciation.
And finally, from an energetic perspective, our minds are like vibrational signals—like a radio antenna tuning in a certain station. If our thoughts are emitting a frequency of lack, fear or anger, we’ll tune in that channel and see the results of it in our lives—like less stuff, more to be afraid of and more people who anger us. If you want a life on fire, you MUST tune your thoughts—YOUR FOCUS—into the things that light you up!
5) Create Your Dreams:
To live a life on fire and experience the life you desire, you must follow all of the steps laid out above. You must be authentically you. You must live with passion and purpose. You must command the faculties of your mind to line-up with that which you want. And, finally, you must take actions that turn your passionate power into a path to your dream!
Create a bucket list. Write down a minimum of 50 things you would like to have, be or do in the next 10 years. Remember, there are no limits. Then, go through and mark how many years it will take to experience them (such as 1, 3, 5 and 10 years).
Having these desires identified and IN WRITING helps activate your RAS to keep your eye out for opportunities and inspirations. Then, pay more attention to your dreams than whatever seems to be going on around you. Remember, your mind is powerful and will attract whatever it is that you are focused on.
Then, take action. But know it’s not enough just to take action—to try to MAKE your dreams come true. If you aren’t following your bliss, you’re probably following someone else’s ideas of a dream—in which case you won’t be motivated to keep at it and when you get what you’re after, it won’t be fulfilling. You have to go after YOUR dream. And if you do—if you know who you are and what you want and WHY you want it—you’ll know just what to do to get there. It will feel right. You’ll feel pulled to follow your inspiration, rather than pushed to do things to avoid what you don’t want. You’ll feel a burning desire within—a longing to walk your path. And when you continue to put one foot in front of the other in the direction of your dreams, you’ll enjoy the moments of your journey of a life on fire.