Your Personal Legend.
What will your Personal Legend be and how do you know if you’re living it?
The term Personal Legend was coined by author Paulo Coelho and first appeared in his international best-selling novel The Alchemist, one of the top one-hundred best-selling books of all time.
Your Personal Legend refers to your story — your life and what you do with it. What kind of stories will people tell of you when you pass? Better yet, what stories will you tell yourself of your life on your deathbed? How will you live your life?
Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience.
– Paulo Coelho
On Coelho’s official blog, he detailed twelve steps from therapist Alan Cohen on the very same theme of following your Personal Legend.
To find your own Personal Legend and start living your story to its fullest, follow these twelve steps:
1. Open up to yourself
The first step is to open up to yourself to discover not only what you might love to do with your life but also what you don’t love.
Coelho says to draw two columns, a ‘T’ chart, with what you would love to do on the left and what you’re currently doing in your life without any energy or enthusiasm.
Make sure not to edit yourself here. No one else is supposed to see this so be totally and painfully honest with yourself. The more honest you are with yourself the better the rest of the steps will go.
2. Take small steps
Now that you’ve gotten an idea of what you’d love to do, take the first few, small steps towards experiencing some of those things.
This can be something as simple as buying a course on a subject you’ve been wanting to study or going somewhere to try something you’ve always wanted to do.
Notice how experiencing these things instills a sense of excitement and passion into your life and start paying attention to what brings you the greatest joy.
3. Learn to say no
On the flip side, slowly begin to say no to some of those things which you placed into the right column; the things which you’re not enthusiastic about.
Are you tired of being taken advantage of by your coworkers who ask you to pick up their slack? Would you rather spend time on a passion project or getting some exercise with friends instead of drinking every weekend?
Start to distance yourself from the things which you’re not enthusiastic about and see how that begins to change your life day-to-day.
4. Discover your talents
Along similar lines to pursuing what you love, what are you great at? What do your friends tell you you’re better than anyone else at doing?
These various talents can often serve as clues to greater overarching skills and talents you have, which you can employ to find your path.
5. Begin to choose
Now that you’ve gathered all the information you can, it’s time to choose a path and see how it makes you feel.
Don’t worry about setting up a long-term plan yet, just dive in to the thing you believe is what you’d like to pursue and see how it feels as this offers a clue as to whether it’s right for you.
6. Make that decision ‘pure’ (not polluted by financial gain)
Important enough to be its own point, you need to make the decision about what to pursue, and pursue it, without financial gain in mind.
Having money in mind when seeking your path pollutes the entire process. I let this pollute my own path of discovery years ago when I was stressed about being able to care for my son financially (along with everything else) without even noticing I was doing it, so I know how sneaky this can be.
Really work hard to make a decision that isn’t at all influenced by monetary gain, purely what instills in you a vibrant energy and enthusiasm, and you can’t go wrong.
That’s obviously easier said than done, and I wish I could say this another way, but I’d be doing you a disservice: if you don’t pursue your true passion, you’ll never be truly happy.
7. Follow your intuition
Also, don’t make this an entirely mathematical or logical process. One plus two might equal three, but what if four secretly tugs at your heart for reasons you can’t quite put your finger on?
Don’t be afraid to follow your intuition and see where it takes you on the path.
8. Don’t be afraid to change
Once you made your decision, don’t be afraid to change it if things aren’t working out. If you move forward with something, but something else begins to creep into your mind more and more, perhaps you should try that instead and see how it makes you feel.
Your emotions can be a great guiding force through the entire process of discovering your Personal Legend, so let them guide you.
The subconscious mind needs a break to recharge and rebalance itself. Most of us don’t know how to give the mind the time and space it needs to do this and we suffer without ever knowing it.
Don’t be afraid to rest — for thirty minutes in the middle of a workday, for a day a week, or a short trip at the end of the year (or now).
Also, make sure you’re getting enough sleep each night so your subconscious can roll around in the ideas from the previous day, it will help you think clearly and more effectively and often help you solve problems and get passed hurdles you were otherwise stumped by.
10. Be flexible
Through the entire process, be flexible.
That is, pay close attention to the presence of stress and strain that can be signs that things aren’t right and be able to make quick shifts to course correct yourself on the path.
Sometimes, things don’t work out the way you planned it. That doesn’t mean they won’t work out. You’re not settling, just allowing life to help guide you towards a better path to fulfilling your Personal Legend.
11. Read the signs
A strong theme throughout Coelho’s The Alchemist, it’s important to know how to read the signs when they arise on your journey.
Sometimes, we make plans to do something and a sign arises that tells us to change course or do something differently. You won’t always get it right, but that’s okay. Don’t ignore these signs, as they’re omens that will help you walk the path more effectively.
12. Take risks
Lastly, along the way you need to be able and willing to take a risk or two. If you ever hope to fully realize your Personal Legend, you must be willing to do whatever it takes. Sometimes, that means what you’re trying to do isn’t a guarantee. That’s just how life is.
However, this path was placed in front of you for a reason, so know that you’re capable of handling it. Believe in yourself and be willing to put yourself out there.