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Finding Your True North

motivation self improvement Jan 18, 2021

[This week's blog post is from the brilliant mind of Amanda Bauer, our Functional Breathing and Running Coach!]

There is a little berm behind my home. I affectionately refer to this little path as “Snake Alley.” The apt nickname becomes clear during the summer months for…obvious reasons. Well, this nearly 1-mile track is my dog’s favorite path to meander through in the morning. She will sit down in the middle of the street and stare at me with indignant accusation in her eyes if we don’t take the “right” path towards Snake Alley. And when she gets there. Ho boy. Her little tail goes wild, she whines with impatient excitement as she sniffs around the thick tree line hunting for that perfect stick. 


This path lights her up.  


We usually sit on this little bank that faces a creek and the sunrise from this spot is heartbreakingly calm. I have made many important decisions sitting there, half in peace, half in quiet amusement at my pup as she destroys the stick that she had chosen for that morning. Some days the choices are small; whether to run or lift, which e-book to purchase with my new monthly Audible credit, to make curry or lasagna for dinner. And then there are the bigger choices. Dumping a boyfriend, saying yes to a new job, deciding to quit that new job… and then there was the best decision I made sitting at that very spot...A few years ago with a furious sense of clarity I signed up for classes that would eventually lead me to Forest Coaching. 


Much like this berm, the path to get to where I am now is twisty, filled with ankle twisting divots and blind curves, and yes…occasional slippery movement of a sunbathing snake that catches you off guard and revs up your heart rate. But here’s the thing. The future is scary. I can’t predict or control a lot of things about the future, but what I know about my own journey and future is that this is the path I *want* to be on. 


This path may have some scary unknown moments. Annie may ask me to put on a brave face and get behind a camera to take pictures. She may even ask me to make videos. Oh, have I told you all about how much I despise photos and videos of myself?....Talk about triggers! But those obstacles are the ones that are worth going through to get to *those* moments. The ones that bring a spontaneous smile and a glowing warmth in my chest. 


So let me ask you,

How do you respond when someone asks you, “Where do you want to be in five years?”. “Where is your path taking you?”. “What will your life look like when you are older?”? 


These questions often frustrate me. Cause gosh golly, an hour ago I was planning on having yogurt for breakfast and right now I am seriously considering chocolate chip pancakes. 


My mentor frequently asks, “What Lights You Up?” and that is such an important question when considering our paths, our journeys and futures. Goals and dreams are pivotal to creating great habits and having a sense of purpose, but my question is, how do we decide what goals and dreams are *true* for us? How do we find our True North? The beacon that drives the direction of our choices and footsteps?


What lights you up? What brings you joy and a sense of self? Just like a hiker would keep their compass handy to keep them on track, what lights you up should be your compass, your guiding light and the cornerstone to which you refer when choosing where your feet will land. 


This morning, I didn’t even bother attempting to divert Parker’s attention to a shorter morning walk. We trudged together down the road, tackling a mountain of snow and sidestepping a particularly slick stretch of sidewalk. I caught myself grinning wide and giggling. I felt a sense of calm confidence and utter safety with my pup on the other side of the leash, my coffee in hand and the bursts of inspiration that tend to pop in my head while I am back there. How best to deal with a client’s weird pain thing, or a new series of classes that I can’t wait to share, or even an AHA moment to help someone unlock success in a certain lift or skill. In moments like those, I know I am pointed toward my True North. The path I am on makes me feel like ME. Just like the little weirdo by my side, content and just perfectly herself in her favorite spot. 


The future is scary. We can’t predict or control a lot of things about what will be.  What we can do is we can point ourselves towards our True North by understanding the question, “What Lights Me Up?”. From there, if the big choices we make are true and honest to that knowledge of our own selves, then those scary hard and sticky moments are the ones you can handle with confidence and grace. Because you know that this path, is the one you *want* to be on. 


There are some caveats you should know about. What lights you up may not be the things that make you happy. 


I am quite happy sitting on my couch with 5 blankets, cozy socks, cookies and a sleepy pup curled up next to me. However, I feel all the feels when I have the honor of witnessing a PR from a client on their Military Press. The next thing I want to do is listen to their excitement and help them achieve more. I immediately see all the possibilities fight for attention in my head. (I am a planner so all of these possibilities are color coded in a flow chart).  I get so *excited* when I get to share my knowledge to further the confidence, strength and courage in others. This. This lights me up. 

As you consider your own True North, reflect on these questions:


What lights you up?

What allows you to feel calm confidence?

Do you find yourself waking up before your alarm, rolling out of bed and excited for your day?

Do your days end with exasperation or anticipation?

Do you like who you’ve become? Are you still learning?

Do you still get excited for normal days?

The future is scary. Especially now. The world changes so quickly, perhaps faster than we are willing to adapt. But what we can do to prepare for an uncertain future is to follow our True North. Follow the path we know we are supposed to be on. When we are faced with those hard choices, we’ll make the decisions that lead us towards our True North, the ones that keep our lights bright, inquisitive and vivacious. Let your journey be the one that allows you to shine your brightest and smile in the face of hurdles. Because if you are lit up, you’ll be able to see past those dark and scary times. 


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