I was 39 when I got pregnant for the first time.  I had just hit 40 when I got married to a man who has a spinal cord injury and uses a wheelchair.  I left a pretty cushy corporate job at 42 and became an entrepreneur.  None of this was what I envisioned when I was in my twenties.

I’ve had to learn to embrace living unconventionally.  And now, I love my life.  In this episode, I’m going to tell you how to live the life you were meant to.  Have a listen, or read on below.

Creating the life you were meant to live sometimes, maybe even often, means going against the grain.  It means defying societal pressures that encourage us to live the way everyone else is living.  It means living an unconventional life.  And that’s not easy. Everything inside of us wants to be like everyone else.  It takes courage to be different.

 In some cases, circumstances may force us to live unconventionally.  But if we don’t embrace those circumstances, and continue to strive to live like everyone else, we’ll never be happy.  That constant struggle, the anxiety that comes up when we can’t have something we think we want, will trap us in a pattern of negativity and a joyless existence.

 I know this from experience.  Let me tell you a story. 

 As a teenager, I had this dream of how my life was going to go.  I envisioned getting married at 24, having kids a few years later, a girl and a boy; raising them and working on my career for the next 18 years and then settling into the empty nest when the kids went off to university. Pretty typical expectation, right? (well maybe not the getting married at age 24 in this day and age).

None of it panned out the way I planned.

Throughout my 20’s and 30’s, I struggled to find a career that I enjoyed and thought there was something wrong with me when I was still single at 34. I married a wonderful man who has a spinal cord injury at 40 (you can imagine how atypical a life that leads to). I got pregnant for the first time at 39, and then again at 41 and 42, which is pretty uncommon. 

Around the same time, I was laid off from my corporate HR job and then started again from scratch as an entrepreneur.  If you listened to my last podcast episode (#21) where I shared all my secrets, you’ll know that we were not able to have children without a donor egg and chose not to pursue IVF in the end. 

All of these are circumstances make my life very unconventional but, until  about 3 years ago, I continued to strive for what everyone else had. 

I was jealous of the women I had left behind in the corporate world who were successfully climbing the corporate ladder. I resented the people who posted their seemingly perfect family photos on social media. I avoided all the family-oriented community events that are so popular in the small town where I live. 

I was filled with envy for what I thought I wanted: a “normal life”.

And then, slowly, I started to accept and even embrace my circumstances.

I started to enjoy the freedom and flexibility that entrepreneurship affords.

I realized that my husband and I have a level of financial freedom that others lack, since we don’t have to spend money on kids clothes and activities or save for university. 

We can pick up at the drop of a hat and go travelling or even just out for dinner without worrying about a babysitter.  

We are actually living a pretty amazing, albeit unconventional, life!

Upon that realization, I felt so much better.  I started to work on being grateful for what I had and the envy started to wash away.  I stopped worrying about what everyone else thought about the way I was living. I started to break free of those societal pressures I had felt all my life.  And it was liberating!

It’s in that space, that mindset, that we can truly feel joy and happiness and trust that we are in the right place at the right time. 

Now, this didn’t all happen over night.  It took some work.  Some self-reflection, some self-development and continuous practice.

Here are three steps you can take to start living an unconventional life, the life you were meant to live.

1. Recognize 

Take a step back and look at your life.  Is there a part of it where you’ve been led to live unconventionally and resisted it?  Maybe you haven’t attracted your life partner yet, or you are childless at 40. Perhaps you have a disabled child, or a disabled spouse. Or you really don’t want to climb the corporate ladder, but it’s the path you took out of college and stuck with it because it’s what everyone around you expected. 

Really look at your life and recognize where you were not meant to follow the crowd.  Where you might be doing what others expect instead of what you were meant to be doing.

2. Practice gratitude 

Once you recognize that area of your life where you are resisting the path you were meant to follow, appreciate that path. Now, I practice gratitude for all the experiences I was able to have as a singleton in my 20’s and early 30’s. I lived overseas, I traveled, I went back to school to get my Masters. I appreciate all the experiences I’m able to have in my 40’s while many of my friends are tied down on weekends by kids sports activities or they have to miss adult-only events because they couldn’t find a babysitter.

Be grateful for what your unconventional life has afforded you.

3. Release judgment 

We often judge ourselves based on what we believe others think.  I did it.  I still do it sometimes.

Someone once said to me that a person cannot know true selflessness until they’ve had a child.  Of course, I now know that’s not true. 

But for years after that, I judged myself against that standard. To prove I was selfless, I would give in or say “yes” to invitations, requests and volunteer opportunities that I didn’t really want to participate in. I would be hard on myself when I did something for me. I spent my 30’s doing everything for everyone else until I finally realized one day that I was judging myself based on that other person’s opinion. Once I decided to stop worrying about what everyone else was thinking, I could start doing things the way I truly desired.

I invite you to spend some time journaling or meditating on these three concepts. You’ll start to uncover the path to the life you were meant to live.  It can be a challenge and it can take some time and effort. But it’s well worth the investment as it will ultimately lead to joy and happiness. 

References from this episode:

Sheri Johnson