‘Follow your heart’ is an almost annoyingly vague phrase.
However, its significance for many of us is unquestionable. We know that following our heart, and being true to ourselves, is critical for a meaningful life even if most of us don’t exactly know what we mean when we say it.
Unfortunately, something else that most of us have in common is we never actually put the work in to make this a reality. We live out our entire life never allowing ourselves to be true to our dreams and desires. But those brave few warriors who set out despite the fear and doubt that overwhelms all of us? They, we, must prepare for the real work.
Because the truth is, following your heart is tough. But so worth it.
The Truth About What It Takes to Follow Your Heart
You can’t live a lie. You have to follow your heart.
– Paul Weller
A simple phrase with a lot of significance, following your heart is something that a lot of people identify with but very few ever take action to make a reality. Those of us that do are met with great challenges that seek to knock us off of our horse and back into the boring trudge of a ‘normal’ life.
But the reality is, life is tough for all of us, no matter who you are or what you’re doing with your life. So, why not follow your dreams? Why not meet the challenges head-on instead of hiding in wait for them to spring up on you? Ultimately, either way, the two of you will meet. The only difference is whether you’ve decided to live out your dreams and be true to yourself or not.
This is the truth about what it actually takes to follow your heart:
1. You will lose things that are precious to you
To clear up any misunderstanding, I’m not saying that your dream will cause things to be taken from you, but rather that you’ll encounter incredible hardship along the way because doing so is typically a long-term effort — and, well, life is life.
When these challenges arise, it can become very difficult to stay on course. Often it’s these occurrences that will challenge your dedication to your dreams and following your heart. For those that set out on this incredible and worthwhile journey, it’s an occasion like this that often makes us quit and settle for something less.
2. You’ll probably get it wrong (many times) before you get it right
“Follow your heart” is a simple statement to make, but very difficult practice to follow. Many times you’ll believe you’re on the right path only to be proven wrong by life. The problem is that our brain is used to making assumptions and filling in blanks because we don’t like the unknown. The unknown makes us uncomfortable and we just can’t have that (sarcasm).
Sometimes, things feel right. Other times, we just rationally figure based on various factors that we’re on the right path. In both cases, we’re making an assumption and will often be proven wrong in time. However, this isn’t anything to fret because every effort made to follow our heart will always bring us closer to our dreams and goals.
Just know this in advance, be ready for it, and don’t think that you’ve failed when you need to make a transition. As long as you’re being true to yourself then you can’t ever be led astray.
3. You define what it means to follow your heart (so do it)
Ultimately, following your heart is an intangible process based more on emotion than something you can quantify. Sure, the decisions made thereafter are done so using logic and you should absolutely track your progress towards the goals you set which are associated with following your heart, but the major decisions are all steeped first in this intangible process.
For that reason, you have to define for yourself what it means to follow your heart. There is no logical system you can use to know exactly what this is or what the right path is for you to take. However, it’s important not to brush this off as an excuse not to define it. Don’t do this.
Take the time to map out a plan and tap into what you’re feeling now to create a vision for the future that is true to who you are. Think about who you want to be, where you want to go, and what you would do if money weren’t an issue. With a plan such as this, you’ll place the chips in your favor and give yourself a clear path to follow. This is invaluable.
4. Your heart can change (but don’t confuse this with settling)
This is a tricky one. People do change. Most of what makes us who we are includes the conditions we live in and things we experience– and these can change. For that reason, you need to know that it’s okay to change course along the way. Don’t confuse this with settling and end up holding yourself back because of it.
However, having said that, sometimes the desire to quit and settle for something less comes disguised as a change of heart. If you haven’t worked hard to learn how to listen to your heart and know clearly what you want without letting the fear of what others may think cloud your thinking, you may be tricked by your own mind.
If you ever find yourself in such a situation and you’re having a hard time differentiating between the two, clarity is your best friend. Take time to meditate regularly for a week (or longer) so you can gain the clarity necessary to make a sound decision. Your entire life depends on it.
Following your heart isn’t easy and anyone who tries to tell you it is hasn’t done it long enough. You’ll encounter challenges along the way, but one thing is for certain, if you want to realize a deeply fulfilling and joy-filled life then you must decide to be true to yourself and follow your heart with a sense of urgency.