How to Truly Live: Take These First Steps

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What is “Truly Living?”

As a transformational lifestyle coach, I work with clients who sometimes expect that there is that one, magical action they need to take to start living the life of their dreams. If they can just quit their job, if they can just travel more, etc. — then life will be what they want.

Can you relate? Do these plans leave you wondering how to truly live?

In truth, change takes more than “just” having the courage to take the leap into a new way of life. There’s a commitment to a lot more work around that. Real and lasting change takes making real shifts in actions (what you’re doing), behaviors (how you’re doing it), and thoughts (how you’re talking to yourself and what you believe). The way you think influences the way you behave, which influences the actions you take. And all of that feeds into the change that you’re able to make AND sustain for the long term. It takes real work.

If “taking the leap” isn’t the route to truly living life, where do you start?

How to Truly Live: Giving Yourself Permission

Author Elizabeth Gilbert talks about “creative living,” giving yourself permission to take up the space you’re meant to in this world. Letting yourself flow with everything that bubbles up in your body as the actions you’re meant to take. She makes sure to call out that this “entitlement” to living is actually the opposite of the self-absorption it sounds like. Think about what typically keeps us from acting in accordance with our inner voices — worry about what others will think of us. Self-absorption.

Gilbert writes that it’s actually the OPPOSITE of selfishness to live our one particular way of being in this world. It’s giving ourselves permission to pour out our fully unique gifts in this world, for its benefit.

Give yourself permission to live. To embrace change. To branch off in a different direction from everyone else.

In my work, I call this concept of how to truly live “adventurous living.”

This name emphasizes the risk that it takes to step out of the perception of belonging as “fitting in,” and into true belonging. It also draws on the commitment you must make to shifting and adapting to change that inevitably comes our way in life if you want to live into your life’s true adventure.

So, how do you do this? Let’s get into the real first steps you can take, to close in and embrace your unique, creative, adventurous self. This will help you learn how to truly live.

Skip to Actionable Steps

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Actionable Steps



Awareness, or mindfulness, is an essential first step to noticing what thoughts, behaviors, and actions are serving or not serving us, so that we can make the necessary shifts.

Set your Awareness into gear by knowing what you WANT. Key into your inner compass by setting daily intentions around how you want your actions to impact the direction you want to be going, and how you want to show up for your day. And…

Checking for alignment. Throughout the day, start to notice (or become aware of) what you’re doing, thinking, and being that either aligns with your intentions or is not in alignment with those intentions. When you first start out, you might just incorporate a nightly check-in with yourself, then as you build awareness you might notice more at the moment and gain the ability to ask, “Am I in alignment?” and make a shift.



If you’re anything like me, you might tend to force tasks you need to get done in order to appear “productive,” without allowing yourself time to get in the flow, to provide time for rest, or to give yourself space to shift thought patterns. Things like play, rest, or just switching activities can help to kick your brain into a new thought pattern.

A sudden solution to a problem might come up when you’re doing an unrelated activity.
The quality of your work might improve if you’re doing it from an aligned space and when you’ve had enough rest. You might have more clarity on decisions and next steps when you let go of what others expect of you.

Try letting go of pressure, and tune into the alignment you’ve created through awareness. Rooted in your true self, how does your day flow more naturally? Notice how allowing versus forcing begins to impact your thoughts and behaviors.



In order to more easily work on Allowing, you’re going to have to start giving yourself permission to do some being, rather than doing all the time.

While busyness has become a badge of honor in this society, what would it be like to instead proudly wear the badges of getting adequate sleep? Taking time away from work to eat your lunch? Being still with yourself instead of always having something focused to think about, or do?

It feels uncomfortable at first — I know! We are trained to have to be “doing” something, or else we’re not “productive,” and that’s viewed as negative. This is a false perception!

Just being IS working. It’s allowing you time to actually hear your inner voice. To respond rather than to react, to recharge adequately, to gain a new perspective. And with all that quiet time and focus on being…you might just start realizing you need to shift some of your actions to better align with your new world view.



Breathing is something that every single being must do. Humans, animals, and plants alike. And it’s something we very rarely (if ever) pay attention to.

When I do BreathWork sessions with Carolyn Jones, my BreathWork Instructor, she always reminds me of my breath by saying something like this:

“Feel into your breath right now. It’s likely predominantly in your chest. Shallow, rushed, tight. Now let your breath drop into your lower belly. Breathe fully into your abdomen, filling up all of the space in your body. Take the time to do this. And let it out fully.”

We get stressed, we focus on fitting in, on being productive, and we lose touch with our bodies. Our life-giving force of breath is given less space to fill us and awaken us.
You’ve grown in Awareness of your thoughts, behaviors, and actions. Now you’ve begun to Allow your true self to shine through rather than forcing action based on others’ expectations. You’ve begun to work on just Being and challenged your view of productivity.

Now, take time to turn inward. Have the courage to feel where else in your body hasn’t been given adequate attention. Listen to the tension, to the emptiness, to the longing that bubbles up within your core. Be with it. Allow it to speak. Be Aware of where those sensations show up throughout your day.

As a simple first step here, start to dedicate a few moments each day to paying attention to your breath, and what sensations are present in your body. Let your breath fill up your whole core, and use it to spread love to all the neglected spaces, to give yourself permission to open those up today.


Conscious Choice

Lastly, your adventure begins when you gather up all the pieces from your Awareness, what bubbles up through your Allowing, what you notice when you begin to just Be, and what speaks to you when you Breathe. You can use all of this information to make a conscious choice for your next steps forward.

I like to use two tools to tune into this information, to nurture it, and to challenge your next Conscious Choices.

Curiosity. What is your true self, and your body, saying to you? If you’ve been paying attention, you can hear the messages loud and clear. It’s time to listen and to get curious about where they are coming from, and what they want from and for you.

Compassion. Sometimes we may encounter messages we don’t want to sit with, or deep places of hurt. They’re still a part of us. When we’re willing to turn towards them and give them compassion, we can start to work with those spaces and nurture them back into integration with us. Try simply surrounding those spaces with a feeling of love and compassion, and see what happens. How does that increase your freedom of choice?

You alone have the ability to Choose what you do in life. Whether you live adventurously, creatively, in belonging…or if you adhere to others’ expectations and continue to long for something more.

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About the Author

Beth Zabiegalski

Beth Zabiegalski

Human Potential Coach, The Heart Wants Adventure

Beth is an intuitive and nature-based coach, certified by the Human Potential Institute and credentialed by the International Coach Federation. She earned her undergraduate degree in Journalism at West Virginia University, then left her career path in nonprofit communications in late 2017 in order to pursue her passion for the outdoors. In addition to becoming a coach to help other 20-somethings realize their lives’ true adventures, Beth is now a certified Wilderness First Responder (NOLS) and a Level II River Kayaking instructor (ACA).

Beth lives and travels in a retired ambulance (now mobile tiny home) with her husband and her cat, and she enjoys hiking, knitting, connecting with the natural world, and creating all-natural cooking recipes. 
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