In the great fiction classic The Alchemist, author Paulo Coelho sends us on a journey of the heart in which a boy named Santiago attempts to find a special treasure.
It’s not revealed exactly what this treasure is until the end of the book, but what he discovers along the way is arguably far more valuable and the real point of the book. Or, rather, it was what he discovered that eventually brought him to his treasure.
Santiago’s journey is a journey of the heart. At times, he was focused and excited about the future. Other times he was drawn almost mystically towards the next step in his journey. And still, other times he had lost all motivation and given up, often settling somewhere and forgetting all about his special treasure.
However, no matter where he was, it was his heart which he let guide him (even when he had given up, it was his heart which tugged at him until he could no longer ignore it). It was this journey and what he accomplished along the way which defined his Personal Legend.
How to Follow Your Heart and Live Your Personal Legend
Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure.
– Paulo Coelho
It’s this such journey to realize our Personal Legend which, like it did with Santiago, fills us with a deep sense of purpose and fulfillment that gives our life great meaning. But it can be difficult to know how to do this yourself, especially when the world around us seems to preach to us that we must settle and accept the cards we were dealt.
In fact, following one’s Personal Legend is something most of us won’t even consider (whether we admit this to others or not). This is because we’ve been so battered by messages of what “reality” and “life” are really like that we have come to wholly doubt the existence of such a Personal Legend for ourselves in the first place. That, or we’re afraid of what it means to follow it.
Having said that, I have one question for you…
Will you follow your heart or settle?
Before you put your device down and move on from reading this article to doing something else, it’s important to ask yourself this question:
What is at stake if I choose to not follow my heart, live my Personal Legend, and settle?
What will the rest of your life look like if you choose to settle into where you’re comfortable and never venture out to where your heart takes you? Are you willing to accept that if you take that route you’ll never be truly happy? Before living out another minute of your life, you better be prepared to answer that question wholeheartedly, one way or another.
Only you know what it will mean to follow your heart. I can’t nor can anyone else figure that out for you, but it means the same thing for all of us: our path to a deep sense of meaning, fulfillment, and greater happiness.
Can you see yourself sitting in a chair when you’re 70, looking out the window and wishing you had taken that chance, followed that path, or seen where that opportunity would have taken you? If you can stomach that, stop reading now. Feel free to go.
But if not, if you can’t stand the idea that you might live the rest of your life not having followed your dream, your heart, and where it all would have taken you, then read on. It’s time to draw your line in the sand and begin following your heart to realize the amazing adventure that life can be.
How to follow your heart
In The Alchemist, Coelho speaks about omens. It’s true that God has a large influence on the message of the book, especially when it comes to this point, so it depends both on your beliefs as well as on how you decide to interpret the message of these omens (as God isn’t the only way to interpret them, never is there one definition that must be followed).
However, no matter what you believe, I feel it’s unmistakable that life seems to send us messages, clues, at times that are so obvious it leads us to wonder if it was intentional (even intelligent). Whatever the reason, paying attention to these clues is critical if you want to follow your heart and realize your Personal Legend.
Ultimately, I believe the two main qualities required to notice these clues when they arise and follow your heart involves your:
And it’s the development of these two qualities that allow you to effectively follow your heart and realize your Personal Legend.
First, let’s talk about intuition. Innately, we have a better sense of what is right and wrong (both morally and otherwise) than we often give ourselves credit for. When we do something, if we’ve even attempted to be true to ourselves up until that point we can often notice immediately how it makes us feel, and by following that feeling I’ve found we’re rarely if ever led down the wrong path. This is our intuition. It can take a lot of work to hear this voice within ourselves, but following your heart is like anything else in life – it takes work to get good at it.
Then there’s belief. Belief is important because it’s the very thing which drives us to action in the first place (a topic Tony Robbins is a master of). If the proper beliefs aren’t in place, we’ll never take action. However, more than that, it’s inevitable that we’ll be challenged along our path. If we don’t believe in ourselves and what we’re doing we’ll have very little to stand on when the winds begin to pick up.
I know, it’s easy to talk about belief, but it’s another thing to act on it. However, this again, like intuition, works like everything else in life. If you begin flexing the muscle, then over time your ability will strengthen and your resolve will become like steel — unwavering in your belief and the direction your heart is taking you.
Following your heart isn’t like learning how to ride a bike. Sure, it’s the same gradual process to learn, and requires the same characteristics and attitude that make you successful in anything, but it’s not something you can easily identify or measure, leading it to be very difficult to know if you’re on the right path or not. However, like learning a new language, with time you can come to know by listening to your intuition when you’re on the right path or not.
This is your life and the best time to start the journey to realizing your dream is now in this very moment. Take the first step forward to follow your heart and discover the joy and fulfillment that can be found by living your Personal Legend.