Have you ever sat back and wondered if you’re living the life you were meant to live?

For many years I was the guy who would go along to get along. I never wanted to rock the boat. A serial ‘people-pleaser’. Bouncing around day-to-day in a dream world.

Looking back, I was in a bit of a trance. Living my life by default rather than design.

I’m not making this way of ‘being’ wrong. I did have some fun and, at times, my ignorance was bliss. But, behind the polish, I was unhappy and couldn’t put words around why.

From the outside looking in, I had it ‘sorted’. My own businesses, nice house, lovely wife, nice car — all the trappings of what I call ‘conventional success’.

I’m not judging these as wrong. I like nice stuff, but the pleasure I get from it is minuscule compared to the joy and ‘inner’ fulfilment I get from other areas of my life. For example, authentic connection with my sons, wife, friends, and clients.

Now I have more awareness and a better sense of what drives me. What I really value in life, my purpose, and the kind of life I want to create. Part of the problem previously was I didn’t know what I truly wanted, or who I really was. I never even realised I could slow down and ask these kinds of questions of myself. I was always too ‘busy’.

I used to live what I now call a ‘synthetic life’.

I was asleep at the wheel driving aimlessly through each day. When things didn’t work out I was quick to blame other people and circumstances. I’d tricked myself into believing, ‘that’s just the way life is, s**t happens’.

Upon reflection, I had a complete lack of ownership. With under-responsibility a common thread running my life.

Then my first son was born. This magical event, combined with working with a great coach, helped me ask better questions of myself. I gradually woke up out of my trance and things started to change. I started to see how I had created everything around me — the good, the bad, the ugly.

Although the realisation of this was painful at first, it was also freeing because it put me in control of my life and allowed me to empower myself to transform. When I realised I was the problem it was simple to see that I was also the solution.

Isn’t that wonderful?

I could lead my life rather than let it lead me.

I started to understand that you can choose to change your life, develop and grow, without waiting for ‘things to be just right’ before doing so. I stopped blaming other ‘things’ for the reason why life wasn’t working out as I wanted it to.

I started living what I call an ‘authentic life’.

At times, it was hard. A bit like starting a new exercise program. You go ahead with good intentions but when you’re actually doing the work, breathlessly plodding on the treadmill or straining to lift a heavy weight, it’s not that nice. You want to stop and take a break. Then, once you’ve done, you’re sore. The ripple effects can sometimes last for a few days after each session. You want to quit. It’s too hard. But, you stick with it.

Then, something happens. You start to get used to it, feeling the benefits. You enjoy the challenge more because you can see the progress and the positive impact on your life. So, you keep going.

In my experience, it’s the same when you choose to develop yourself personally.

When you choose to start living an Authentic life vs. a Synthetic life.

It’s a mind game, much like exercise. But, if you stick with it, you can create a wonderful life for yourself you didn’t think possible.

Creating your life rather than reacting to life.

That’s what living an authentic life is about, for me, anyway.

Growth and personal development are about continuous practice, a journey not a destination. Much like exercise, if you don’t use it you lose it. The same happens to your mind and soul.

Untended gardens don’t grow flowers … they become overrun with weeds.

I am by no means ‘perfect’. I know that if I become complacent and don’t work on my mindset and spirituality regularly I become stale and disengaged. I have certain routines and healthy habits that really serve me and my desire to create a life I love to lead. If I don’t follow through with these, I start to morph back into the ‘going along to get along’ guy. I lose energy, focus, and just feel like I’m slowly slipping back into that trance again.

I’ve created a list of 38 ‘real-world’ distinctions from my own experience to help you see some of the differences between living an authentic life vs. living a synthetic life. I hope you find them useful.

Once you’ve read them, ask yourself, ‘where’s my opportunity for growth?’.

Pick one thing and start working towards a daily practice that will help you get closer to the kind of person you want to be. Believe it or not, you do have a choice. When I realised that my whole world started to shift.

If you’re inspired by this take some action … start to progress something in your life that would really make a difference.

Love and wellness,

David.

“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let out true selves be seen.”
Brene Brown

38 distinctions on Living an Authentic Life vs. Living a Synthetic Life

1. Knowing what your own values and purpose are vs. Living your life by injecting other peoples’ values

2. Having a clear picture of what you want to create vs. Living day-to-day putting fires out

3. Being present and connecting with others heartfully vs. Rushing around with no time for deep connection with anyone

4. Taking small consistent steps daily towards your vision vs. Taking on random shiny project after project with the ‘hope’ that someday things will turn out ok

5. Spending quality time with people you love who give you energy vs. Feeling obliged to hang around with people who drain your energy

6. Taking care of your mind, body, and soul so you have more energy to create a fulfilling life vs. Self-medicating with food, alcohol, and other life-sucking unhealthy habits that take energy away

7. Feeling centred and in control vs. Feeling chaotic and uncontrolled

8. Working in a business that is a pure reflection of what you value most in the world and gives you joy vs. Striving for conventional success and money above all else. Chasing, chasing, chasing whilst being unhappy and drained

9. Having time and space to feed and nurture all areas of your life vs. Being chained to the business you’re in with no idea how to create something different

10. Building an engaged team of people who care as much about your business as you do vs. Having a team of people who do just enough to get paid

11. Creating magical memories with the ones you love vs. Never having time or space away because you fear things would ‘go wrong’ if you were not around

12. Taking responsibility for your mindset and energy vs. Blaming external events to lower your mindset and energy

13. Going to bed on a Sunday night well-rested and looking forward to what Monday morning has in store for you vs. Having a restless night thinking about all the things that are around the corner when you wake up tomorrow

14. Leading your life by design, intention, and action vs. Going along to get along, living by default, and feeling out of control

15. Having conversations you’ve been putting off with love, care, and consideration vs. Having passive aggressive thoughts about people behind their backs

16. Realising you have created, and can create, everything in your life vs. Playing victim to external circumstances and always blaming events and ‘things’ outside of your control for the reason you’re not where you want to be

17. Having an open mindset and being hungry to learn how to improve all aspects of your life vs. Having a fixed mindset unwilling to look at new perspectives and believing all the stories you tell yourself

18. Taking full responsibility for your life vs. Under-responsibility and avoidance

19. Using your time effectively on clear, well thought out goals that align with your values, purpose, and vision each day vs. Reacting to things daily in a frenzied way and never really getting anything done

20. Being in control of your personal and professional finances vs. Always putting your head in the sand and hoping things will be ok

21. Having wonderful and energising holidays that bring you joy vs. Always feeling guilty for taking time off and, if you do go away, taking ‘work’ with you

22. Knowing what you want vs. Not knowing what you want

23. Setting personal and powerful goals throughout your whole life that give you success and fulfilment on the journey to achieving them vs. Setting unrealistic and rushed targets that never get met, and, if they do, still make you feel empty inside

24. Leading an inspired and engaged team of people vs. Not knowing where to start managing your staff

25. Loving yourself and not worrying about what other people think of you vs. Being a perennial people pleaser, always putting your own desires, needs, and feelings last

26. Being yourself all the time vs. Playing different personalities at home and work

27. Leading by example in all areas of your life vs. Living a life of, ‘do as I say, not as I do’

28. Being happy to express yourself authentically vs. Never really saying how you feel

29. Serving others from a heartful place without looking for anything in return vs. Always looking to manipulate people and ‘get’ something from them in return for you helping them

30. Knowing steady and consistent progress beats perfection vs. Striving for perfection

31. Being organised vs. Being disorganised

32. Slowing down enough to realise every opportunity you desire is already right under your nose vs. Constantly rushing around hunting for the next ‘thing’ for fear of missing out

33. Understanding who you really want to be in the world and coming from that place vs. Being a chameleon and not really knowing who you are

34. Living an inspired life that moves people vs. Surviving and not making an impact

35. Having the routines and healthy habits that allow you to continually improve vs. Gorging on personal development content and never taking action

36. Having space inside to take whatever life presents you with calmly vs. Panicking and getting angry when things don’t go the way you thought they would

37. Ownership vs. Victimhood

38. Creating and leading your life vs. Reacting to your life leading you

Ps. If you know someone in your life who you would benefit from reading this then pass it on, it may well make a difference to their life.