Navigating Life

The Path to Getting Everything You Truly Want

Navigating Life

Recently I began engaging in a series of dialogues with a local coach/consultant, Arthur Fink. Our first conversation focused on guiding our clients through change, an event most find to be paralyzing at worst and threatening at best. Our most recent conversation centered on a new question that came out of a Facebook post by a fellow coach, Mandy Schumaker: How do I know my goals and actions are in alignment with my authentic self?

Using the concept of red lights and green lights as the indicators of authenticity, we explored how to know if you are off the rails or on track and full steam ahead.

Red Lights – Stop and think about what you’re doing

1. Egocentric thoughts or the thoughts around status and impressing others. Was your choice of action shaped by how others would respond? These are certainly thoughts that can motivate you but if this is your primary motivation, you are limiting what’s possible. You are not fully checked in with your creativity or passion. The ego is part of the human condition; it will always be there but needs to be managed if you want to achieve fulfillment. Arthur, who is also a photographer, noted that he often faces a choice – to take pictures that others will love and buy, or to take those that he feels are most expressive of his experience.

2. The action is taken to avoid an unpleasant consequence. How often do you do things you don’t want to do but do anyway because you don’t feel you have a choice? This is what coaches describe as coming from a place of fear, lack or scarcity. “If I do/don’t do this, I will…be ridiculed, fail, go hungry, be homeless.” If you found yourself saying, “I didn’t have a choice”, you’ve merely convinced yourself that choice was absent because you did not want to have to own it. That’s not to say you didn’t make a logical choice; to the contrary. Authentic action is not logical and cannot be measured by that standard.

3. The universe has interceded on your behalf and forced you to take a closer look at what’s important to you. Have you had the experience of knowing you were avoiding taking an action that was right for you? If this goes on for too long, something will come along to provide clarity and immediacy. This can look like a medical condition, accident, lost opportunity, etc. They are events that appear to be bad news on the surface but, upon closer inspection, the gift is revealed. This is why it’s so important to unemotionally examine the “bad things” that happen in our lives. There is a purpose to everything, even if you don’t like it.

Green Lights – No need to think; you’re in the flow!

1. The action is an inspired action and comes from a place of love rather than fear. The idea is pulled from the ether, lights you up, and there is nothing you would rather do than take the action. Have you ever had a Jerry Maguire moment? You can’t sleep or eat because the excitement of the idea has taken over, and you know you will not be at peace until it is a living thing out in the world.

2. Rather than depleting your energy, the action energizes you. You are amazed at how much you are able to accomplish without needing to lean on coffee, sugar or alcohol. The weekend my friend was married. I ran a 10k at 9am in Maine, drove two hours to Gloucester, MA, attended the rehearsal and dinner, drove the wedding party back to Brookline, MA, and stayed up late chatting about plans, the next day and the years to come. I slept a few hours before all the activities of the wedding day began. The day was jam-packed, amazing, and we danced, sang and talked late into the evening. I was filled with love for my friend, her husband and their new life together. The love I had for them had found an outlet. I was unstoppable.

3. You just know, especially if it takes you out of your comfort zone, that it is exactly what you need to do to achieve your higher goals. Have you ever intuitively “known” you must do something even though it scares you so much you might lose your stomach? Call it a “gut feeling”, intuition, a tensing of your skin, chills, nervous excitement; it’s all the same. You have suddenly found yourself feeling fully alive, vital, perhaps somewhat shaken. There is something big at play, and you have found yourself up to bat at the bottom of the ninth with two outs and two strikes against you. That might be a little dramatic because you won’t “lose” the game if you don’t swing the bat. However, there is a sense that this is the “now or never” moment when everything could change. Note: I have NEVER heard anyone say they regretted taking the action when they were in this position. Just the opposite; looking back with 20/20 vision, they see that it was EXACTLY what they needed to do at the time.

4. Synchronistic events begin to occur around you. Have you had those times where the right people come into your life and opportunities arrive like wrapped gifts? You wondered why you ever thought rainy days were a downer or that things never go your way. These are not coincidences, events that occur by accident but appear to have a connection. I don’t believe in coincidences. The energy around authentic action (i.e., your enthusiasm, clarity, vigor…etc.) gets the attention of others, and they are drawn to you. They begin talking about you to others. They will want to share in your journey and will offer up their resources to move you forward.

The conversation Arthur and I had spurred many personal examples and stories. Just talking about living life authentically and the possibilities that come from it moved and energized us. After 2-1/2 hours we had to table our discussion and move on with our days but not before we committed to round three.

More to come…


  1. A wonderful report of a most helpful conversation.

    I chose to write a about another aspect of our conversation — the notion that in finding that authentic path we’re in some way accessing spirit (even though that word may seem awkward to some). You can read this in my blog,

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