Five keys to owning your life

In 2009, I took a job I didn’t want. It felt like a dream job — just not my dream job.

But the recession was wreaking havoc and I knew others would judge me if I turned it down, so I took it. And I quit four days later. I decided to own my life.

Of course, it’s not that simple, is it? I had a lot of difficult conversations — with myself, with others. I felt a crippling mixture of fear and guilt.

But here’s the thing: If we don’t define what it is we want and really go after it, someone else will direct our show. And we won’t like it.

So, let’s take a look at how to be the sole proprietor of our lives:

1. Define your core values

Start by exploring the life wheel. It’s life, divided into eight areas — family, work, money, personal growth, health and wellness, spirituality, community, and living environment. Rank each area based on your priorities.

I believe balance is bogus. We have to be willing to name the areas of our life that matter most and commit wholeheartedly to those areas.

2. Assess your time

Once you have a better idea of what you’d like to focus on, be honest with yourself: Do you allocate your time in a way that reflects those values?

How we spend our time shows what we truly believe is important. Perhaps you said family ranked first in your life, but you see yourself giving more time to your work. How can you remedy that?

3. Say no

One of my most popular presentations is called “No is a Complete Sentence.” The general idea is that when you say “yes” to something, you are saying “no” to something else.

We have limited resources (from time to money), and when we’ve clearly defined where our yeses should go, we need to be ready to say “no” to things that could derail us.

Also, shed the “shoulds.” If you’re doing something because you believe you “should,” re-evaluate. Recommit to your priorities. Own your choices with confidence.

4. Recognize the potential in failing

Meaningful transformation happens when we take risks, but undoubtedly, failure is a possibility.

It’s OK to visit Pity City. Just don’t live there. Choose to view setbacks as learning opportunities.

What could you do differently next time? What worked and what didn’t?

5. Celebrate large and small victories

I celebrated after quitting that job in 2008. It was a big moment for me, one that required vulnerability and therefore courage.

But I celebrate the small milestones, too, and I encourage you to do the same. After each benchmark, we have a tendency to immediately begin pursuing our next. Before you do, take a moment to appreciate the work that generated this one.

We all are gifted one life to live. Own it. And celebrate it, too.

Regan Walsh is an executive coach and keynote speaker based in Columbus who works with clients nationwide. Her coaching aims to help people transform the way they participate in life so that they can create more jobs, gratitude and purpose.