Courage for career women blog

with Vanessa May

Why you should break your own rules

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One of my favourite phrases is that your first marriage is with yourself. I love it because it reminds me that my first and foremost job is to get into right relationship with myself.

Sounds easy? I can tell you it’s been a lifelong challenge. There have been many times when I’ve listened to the internal rule-based voices of ‘should’ or ‘at least.’ These voices sound so rational and foreboding in their opinion. They lay down parameters and guidelines that I feel compelled to comply with. 

In April, I turned 55. Divorce, hormones, restarting my business and publishing my first book have been challenges that have collided in my fifties. These haven’t been the years of gentleness. They’ve been the years of turmoil, crisis, undoing and individualising all over again. It’s fair to say it was like a coming around again. 

There’s one voice I’ve built a stronger relationship to, the voice of my true north (my authentic self).

It’s this voice that doesn’t let me settle for the previous rules that I’ve conformed to. This voice rumbles on and sends signals through my heart and gut. She is the one that nudges me. She reminds me to pay attention to how I feel in relationship with others and with my work. She reminds me that joy and ease are choices. She is the voice of my authenticity and I continue to learn and relearn that it’s vital that I stay in relationship with her.

It’s her voice that appears throughout my book. The one that is no longer silenced by the fear-based limits and shyness. The beliefs that say, it’s too late, that I should view work as a transaction, not a purpose, that I should sacrifice for others, that it’s better to settle for lacklustre for the sake of the paycheck.

Each time I’m at an edge I need to remember to slow down, get grounded and wait for her to appear. Otherwise, those automatic, compliant, and self-protecting reactive habits will dictate the next steps. I’ve learnt that my work and life don’t need to look like that of others. That people won’t like me more because I strive for harmony. My authentic self just needs me to fit me and to have integrity with that.  

It’s this choice that keeps coming back around. Over and over. Situations arise where I doubt what I should do and the more I remember to slow down, pay attention, and follow the nudges, the more confidence it builds in my authenticity and quiets those awful doubts that can keep me awake at night, churning every what-if around in my head. 

The good news is you can discover the voice of your true north at any point.

There’s no expiry date on this work. Your authentic self is always whispering to you. She will come around again and again, no matter what your age or experience. She is the voice of who you are.  

The courageous living process is a simple process to help you navigate through those doubts and uncertainties and remember the truth of who you are. To do this sometimes you’ve got to break through the dogma of your own rules that you’ve set yourself. It’s a process of noticing what the limits, rules and terms are and then questioning, discerning and surrendering so that your authentic voice can be heard.   

To learn more about the courageous living process, stay tuned for updates on the release of my upcoming book Live Courageously.