When I set out to follow my authentic voice 5-7 years ago, I thought the process would be really simple to figure out. Unknowingly I stumbled into one of the most challenging and rewarding tasks of my life. After re-reading the philosophy I studied in graduate school, endless self-help books, and years of head banging experiments on my self, I have learned a lot.I want to break it down for you; what’s worked, what hasn’t worked, and what I’ve learned over the years, so you can benefit from my mistakes. Ultimately, I’ve come to believe that life is about how to discover the true essence of who you are and then consider how that essence can come forward to manifest into the world so others can experience, benefit, and enjoy the real you.But let’s back up for a moment.Essentially, everyone wants to make good choices that lead to a life that works out in the end, right? We want to make essential choices, who to marry, what city to live in, what to do with our careers, even what foods we eat, and the physical shape that we’d like to be in. All choices. Our life is an endless set of choices.But how we decide which choice to make is what interests me.You may try to define your life by looking to friends, family, trusted mentors, for the answers. You may look to books, biographies, the school systems for the answers. And all of these options will give you information, lots and lots of information. Much of the information will be solid and some will be useless, uninformed, or bias. And you may be really adept at sorting through this information. You may even have an excel spreadsheet to weigh out or rank order this information to help you make a choice.But the problem ultimately is the final determination has to include a consultation with the real expert – the one and only “YOU”. The only person that can tell you what you want is you.Within all of us is a deeper wisdom that knows what we want, but most of us railroad right over that wisdom in favor of a life that “makes sense,” meets other people’s approval, or gives us the hope of fame or fortune. I was that person. I followed the advice of others and I picked a life that wasn’t of my own making. I knew that it would bring a life of potential financial freedom, and that was amazing. But the best part about the decision I made was that I knew in the moment that this wasn’t what I wanted. I literally said, “I will do this for a while to make money and then I will follow my passions later.” The worst part was I was successful. I built a business, I sold it to a Fortune 500 company. I was an executive in a business of 27,000 employees. But in my heart, at every moment, I knew this wasn’t the life for me. I loved parts of it; the entrepreneurship, the creative building, and learning. But even though it made a ton of sense, and even though it met the approvals of so many people, I wasn’t fulfilled.So what happened? What happened was I made choices from an inauthentic place and I didn’t know it. I made choices that spoke to my logical mind, the analytic mind. It made sense in my excel spreadsheet calculations, but I didn’t consult with myself. So decision after decision, I created a life. And over time, I lost site of the part of me that knew what I wanted. Seriously, I learned how to make smart choices one after the next, but I stopped practicing making purpose based decisions. Ultimately, decision after decision, I had created a very practical life, a very “smart” life, but not a life that I felt connected to. I failed to understand that the deciding factor in what creates a life that will bring you long-term happiness, long-term contentment, freedom, and joy was questioning the origins of my choices. Do your choices come from you or from logic, others, check lists, or other practical goals without consulting your deeper self.Ask yourself the question, “Where do my choices come from?” Do they come from: approvals, fears, or judgements? Do you end up feeling resentful, angry, or sad? Or do your choices come from your truth?It’s that simple; make choices from your truth and you’ll build a life, choice by choice, that you love. Doesn’t that make sense? It’s so simple, but the question is, “How?”Maybe you’re just starting out in life and you haven’t made a ton of big decisions that have gone in the wrong direction. Maybe you’re very influenced by the people around you? Maybe you are downstream in life like I was and you’ve made thousands of choices out of alignment with your truth. The question is, “How do I find that deeper wisdom? Where do I find my truth — because all of us have it within us — and start trusting it to make choices from that space?”I don’t always get it right. This isn’t about suddenly making all these amazing choices and they’re always coming from this deep authentic place, and you’re just feeling amazing all the time. Life is stressful, life is difficult, it can be really, really challenging. The pressure to pay the bills and competing priorities with family and children can wear you down and you can make decisions out of fear, but that’s okay. Once you learn how to tell the difference, to know the difference between the deeper wisdom within yourself, nobody else can tell you the answer but you. When you find that space and you know how to get back to it when you’ve lost your way, it creates the ability to backtrack and come back to building a life that’s meant for you.So I get off course, I make decisions sometimes and I’m like, “What was I thinking? I knew it didn’t feel right, but I rationalized it.” But the time spent between the decision that got me off track and course correcting, is a lot shorter. So I don’t find myself waking up two, three, four years later wondering, “How did I get here?”Over the next few blog posts we’re going to cover five steps:Awareness: I know everybody talks about awareness but truly, without it you cannot start this process. It is impossible. So we’ll talk about breath and your body and the value of that to begin this process.Take Responsibility: The second step is removing blame completely and switching over to total personal responsibility as your life model.Make Choices: The third step is getting out the victim mindset, ditching it completely and recognizing that you have a choice in every moment.What Do You Want: The fourth step is taking action from your truth. But first you must get clear with yourself. What do you want? And how do I know the difference between what I think and what I want. Then, you assess the choices in front of you: the pros, the cons, the risks and rewards. You have to start with you, not the world around you. Then iterate. Life is an endless iteration. So we want to take action, iterate, pivot, keep going. We’ll talk about what that means.Practice Your Truth: The fifth step is to learn who you are through that process of taking action, without blame, without victim, with awareness, you’re going to start to locate that inner wisdom, you’ll find what your talents and joys are because through that action you’ll see what works and doesn’t work if you know how to function from your deeper self.So you’re going to start to learn again how to locate your inner wisdom, the part of you that you were born with, has never been lost or broken, only disconnected. And once you understand where that space resides, how to take action from it, even when stress mounts and it doesn’t feel like you have choices, you can build a life you desire.If you are asking why bother or why this matters, it is because you will find the effort leads to a life filled with: a calm, a peace of mind, a joy, a deep contentment. And that leaves you feeling as if everything is going to be ok, you are ok. And I mean that in the deepest sense, you are safe, you are free, you can be you, despite what others may think. When you get there you will learn to love making choices and trust yourself again. Life is always moving, creating new challenges, leaving you with big or small decisions and choices that can kick up all the fears, but with practice it can lessen over time. And you can navigate through the storm of life without getting swept up, lost, or filled with fears again. You can find peace in every moment, despite what the external world tosses at you. You can become resilient and that gives you freedom. Freedom to be you, freedom to love, freedom to live life as you wish, freedom to love who you really are and that’s worth the effort.If you have any issues with this, questions about it, feel free to send me a note Laura@lauracoe.com, and thank you for reading.