How to Realistically Live for Yourself & Not for Others

woman standing victoriously outside in an article on how to live for yourself

Live for yourself not for others

How do you successfully live for yourself?

How do you truly live a life for YOU, where you are doing what YOU want, making choices that make YOU proud?

For nearly three decades, I didn’t know the answer to this.

I was too consumed with seeking validation from family, friends, teachers, coworkers, etc.

I was too worried about disappointing anyone and fearing what people would think.

I was too worried others knew better than me, so I would do what they said to do instead of listen to my own gut.

Talk about a lack of confidence! It was an exhausting way to live. But, I am finally figuring things out. And it feels SO GOOD!

We all deserve to live a meaningful life that is our own and that we love.

After all, we only live once. So we should be living our lives for ourselves–not for anyone else.

Here are the things I have learned along the way that have given me the ability to take control of my happiness.

I hope these tips help you as much as they have helped me!

This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link.

9 Tips to Live for Yourself & Not Feel Guilty About It

1. If It Ain’t Fun, Don’t Do It

woman happily jumping in an article on living for yourself

How many times have you done something because you think “it’s the right thing to do”, but really, you’re miserable doing it?

We all have those things in our lives where we feel we should be doing this or that because of XYZ. But if it doesn’t bring you joy, then stop!

If it doesn’t feel good, then don’t do it–no matter how big or small the task is–be it an RSVP to a birthday party or working at a job you hate.

If it’s making you unhappy, take action to stop it. And while doing so, you do not owe anyone an explanation.

We need to remember to set boundaries for ourselves. And the boundary I love to live by now is, do what makes you feel good.

Life becomes very freeing when you follow this guideline.

Decision-making is very easy if you simply do what makes you feel good.

2. Do What Makes You Feel Good TODAY

woman sitting outside near lake and mountains in article on living for yourself

I want to look back on my past with pride and look forward to my future with excitement.

I am in control of ME. You are in control of YOU. I am the only one who can create the life I desire, and you are the only one who can create the life you desire.

If you are always thinking of the past or always worrying about the future, you are going to stay stuck twisting in the doldrums of the present.

I want to live like my toddlers live, where they wake up with smiles and excitement–simply happy for the day. They’re wondering what they’re going to play with, without the worries of life yet.

They are great examples of being in the present. If you focus on what feels good NOW, the future will fall into place as it should.

For example, I used to work a corporate job. I was there for 8 years, and I was nearly miserable all 8 of the years I was there.

Even though the people were great, the company was great, and the benefits were great, I was unhappy. I kept trying to justify being there, because that was the safer/easier route.

But, I never came home feeling fulfilled. It was not meaningful work for me. So, what did I do?

I took ACTION. Because life is too short to slog away at something that doesn’t bring you joy.

I started working with children again on the side (I was a teacher first before going corporate). And, I started this blog on the side.

I had no idea how to use WordPress or how to write an article with SEO in mind. I didn’t know how to build a website by myself. But I did it.

One day at a time. Because it felt fun to me. And now, I write articles that rank on Google and receive passive income for it. I LOVE it!

At the time, I wasn’t sure what the end result would be, but it felt good to just go for it. I figured if it didn’t work out, it would lead me to my next great thing. Because we do not need to have all the answers right now.

We just need to do what makes us feel good TODAY. If something sounds fun and good for you today, then just DO IT already.

Stop waiting. Stop worrying. Every action is a bread crumb leading you to your cake.

Today is a clean slate. You can start over right now and find your happiness right now.

It is never too late to do something different in the name of bringing you joy.

3. Stop Making Excuses

woman looking at watch in an article on how to live for yourself not for others

It is a lot easier to come up with reasons for why we do not do something; it is safer and less scary staying the same.

Making excuses or blaming others is easier. They are great justifiers and deflect responsibility for our actions.

“I took this career path because I felt pressured to…”

“I did XYZ because I was worried what you’d think if I didn’t…”

Who is in your head? What are your reasons for doing what you are doing?

If the answers to both of these questions is someone other than you, then you are not fully living for yourself yet.

When you truly stop living for others and begin living for yourself, there are no more excuses. There is no one to blame but you.

You have to be ready to be accountable for everything. You have to be strong enough to deal with the consequences.

It is frightening but incredibly freeing.

4. Keep It Quiet

woman typing on phone and laptop in article on how to live for yourself and not for others

I had the epiphany that when I started sharing my goals and aspirations with others, that’s when I started to doubt myself.

When I keep my goals private, I keep my confidence. When I open up to people about them, the judging comes.

The unsolicited advice comes. The questioning comes, and it fills my head with doubt.

I heard a crazy stat once that most people subconsciously hope that you fail.

Because misery loves company. But you know what I say to that? Joy loves company, too.

So I keep my mind strong and full of joy, and the naysayers stay quiet. Because they don’t know what I’m doing.

And I keep quietly pushing on because they don’t know I taught myself–a completely untechy person–how to create a website from scratch and how to monetize a blog successfully.

And why should they know? What is your reason for sharing? If you are truly living for yourself and not for others, no one needs to know what you are doing except you.

Whatever your goals may be, be mindful of who you share them with. And stop comparing yourself to others.

When you do that, you really are not comparing apples to apples, because you truly don’t know the full picture (no one does).

5. What Motivates You?

two women jumping at sunset in article on how to live for yourself

Are you doing certain things to please others? Or are you doing what you do because it excites YOU?

If you focus on doing what gets you excited every day, you will be so much more productive in all areas of your life.

Living for yourself is NOT selfish. It is a necessary ingredient to living the most meaningful life possible, not just for yourself but for those around you.

As a newer mom, I used to put myself last. It’s natural for parents to do that. We are always thinking of our kids first.

But, as the saying goes with flying–put your oxygen mask on first before securing your child’s–we need to do that when we are on the ground, too.

You will have more energy for others when you put yourself first. You will be a better spouse/parent/coworker/volunteer/friend if you put yourself first.

Overall productivity in all areas of your life will simply be boosted. Everyone wins.

Plus, I want my kids to see that I don’t repress my own desires and just do what is safe and easy. I want my kids to see that we are multidimensional, that we take risks, and that we strive for what we want.

For more on this, read 8 Best Self-Care Tips for Moms and 7 Organization Tips for Moms that Saved My LIFE.

6. Cut the Toxicity

woman stressed in article on how to live for yourself and not for others

One of my most favorite sayings is: You are the average of the five people you hang out with the most.

Surround yourself with good people who build you up, not bring you down. If you find yourself spending time with someone because you feel obligated to…for whatever reason…know that you don’t have to!

Relationships are not contractual. You do not owe anyone anything. True, healthy relationships have a natural ebb and flow, a natural state of reciprocity that is good natured and loving.

This took me a long time to realize. Both my husband and my brother are so good at doing this.

They are strong examples of meeting people at their level and not over extending themselves with anyone. They do what makes them feel good and spend time with the people who fill them up the most.

A “relationship” I cut from my life is social media. I found myself getting in worse moods after scrolling, and my mind would focus on things that so. do not. even. matter.

Cutting social media helped clear my head and my mood. I feel way better and have been off of it for years.

7. Think Rainbows, Not Thunderstorms

rainbow in the sky near a bridge

We often find ourselves thinking of hypothetical situations that are really bad, which in turn cause us to stay at a standstill.

What if” situations are truly ridiculous if you think about what they really are…

With the “what ifs” we do in our head regularly (for work, for relationships, for buying something, etc)…compare them to looking at a blue sky and saying, “What if big, dark clouds come? And then it starts pouring rain? And then I get into a car crash? And then the world is ending….”

Ridiculous, right? If there is not a cloud in site, why have those thoughts?!

Anytime I find myself in a “what if thunderstorm” situation in my head, I force myself to think of “what if rainbows”.

“What if the sky stays blue and a rainbow comes and it’s the best day ever?”

“What if” hypotheticals can be either positive or negative…so choose positive! As that saying goes, energy goes where attention flows. So put your attention towards positivity!

Why worry about all the things that can go wrong? Why not wait for them to actually go wrong before you worry?

8. Write Down Your Goals

journal and pens

People often struggle with meeting their own needs for various reasons. One reason for me is finding enough time in the day.

But what helps me tackle my goals is writing them down. I write mine in my Law of Attraction Planner.

It has 8 scientifically-proven steps to increase productivity and create happiness in life that I absolutely LOVE. The goals I wrote in the beginning of the year are coming to fruition.

It is my most favorite thing I own because it really is that powerful in creating amazing accomplishments.

I am a big believer in that we have the ability to manifest what we want, and this journal helps me do just that.

The journal has helped me increase focus, productivity, and happiness. Who doesn’t want more of that?!

In addition to my planner, I use my phone for smaller goals, like grocery shopping. I write everything I need to do in my phone calendar, or I send myself an email.

When we write our tasks down, we are 42% more likely to follow through and get it done than the people who don’t.

9. What do you do each day to make yourself a priority?

woman making heart over the sun in an article on living for yourself

It is a good day if I learn something new and have movement.

Those are the 2 things I make sure I do every day, even in the chaos of parenting and working and doing chores.

I love learning new facts, so I am big on reading at night. And I always feel my best if I did some form of exercise, even if it is for only 10 minutes.

You get what you put in. You reap what you sow. So make the best of your day every day.

Don’t just survive each day. Live every day. That’s a saying I learned from my late father-in-law, and I love it.

Final Thoughts on How to Live for Yourself

Living for yourself takes courage. It’s hard to do when we are often worrying over what the right thing is to do or are wondering if we are going to disappoint someone.

But, is it worth letting yourself down? You’re the only one who has to live with that.

When you live for yourself and not for others, you will have a more fulfilling, purpose-driven life that you will love!

As my husband says, I want to live a life that is not vanilla. So if something sounds fun, I’m gonna do it.

My most favorite quote is one I learned in high school from Henry David Thoreau: Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Read Next:

For the New Year: Make a Good Things Jar

11 Tips to Overcome Working Mom Guilt I WISH I Knew Sooner

8 Best Self-Care Tips for Moms

7 Organization Tips for Moms That Saved My LIFE

Marriage After a Baby: How to Keep It SPICY

5 Unexpected Ways Giving Up Caffeine Changed My LIFE


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