I used to find myself jumping on bandwagons.
What I mean is that I didn’t have the confidence to be assertive about how I felt or what I wanted.
It all stemmed from not truly knowing myself and feeling like it was easier to go along with the crowd, than it was to figure out who I was and what I wanted.
The trouble was that I soon discovered that easy isn’t always good.
When we’ve seated ourselves permanently on the bandwagon, we often end up looking to others for feedback and validation. We don’t feel secure enough to be firm in our convictions in the face of opposition (or most of the time, really).
When we find ourselves doing things that don’t feel aligned with who we really are (even if we’re not totally sure who that is), a classic symptom includes saying yes and feeling a pit in your stomach afterward.
We may not be sure about exactly which direction we want to take, but we know that we need to get off the bandwagon to begin making our way there!
Taking the Wheel
Riding along with everyone else often is symbolic of a need that remains unaddressed.
Many of us are seeking something, but it’s often something intangible, therefore making it difficult to determine just what it is that we need to do to bridge the gap between who and where we are (living as bandwagon members) and who and where we aspire to be.
The bandwagon is a noisy, chaotic place. When we ride along, we are inundated by outside information and feedback, making it extremely challenging to gain clarity of any kind.
It’s designed to be a ride-along and can become dangerous when we run up a toll of emotional debt and the “creditors” are at our doorstep trying to claim more of our buy-in.
Constantly keeping up with the Jones’s takes a great mental and emotional toll on us.
On the other hand, when we have two hands on the wheel of fate, we direct our circle of influence.
Our values and beliefs are often passed down to us by the people we were and are surrounded by. We therefore need to ask ourselves: Are the people who influenced us most often looking out for our best interests? And what do we really value and believe as individuals (without the bandwagon influence)?
Riding the bandwagon is rarely mutually beneficial. Our values are not intended to be outsourced ; they should be sourced from within ourselves.
Our greatest relationships are intended to be mutually beneficial. Where the bandwagon can be a place of accumulation and strain, our ideal inner circle should be one of abundance in a stress-less form.
Jumping off the bandwagon means that our job becomes one of filtering out the noise and working to gain clarity on our own needs and purpose.
Until we recognize the significance of being in line with our core (who we are) and knowing our purpose, we will continue to look to others to define us and we will continue to jump on the bandwagon.
Here are some powerful practices for carving your own lane and aligning with who you uniquely are and what you love:
- Be mindful of what you are paying attention and listening to. Pay attention to who or what is guiding your decisions. If it isn’t you, it’s time to jump ship and take the wheel.
- Find your character strengths. As mentioned in the post, “Overcoming the Strain of Small Talk,” you can go to viacharacterstrengths.org to determine your strengths, a great starting point to discover what your values are.
- Detail your ideal life. Here are the questions to answer to begin the discovery process:
- Look into the future. Imagine you are living your ideal life. What does that look like?
- What is getting in the way of reaching that point?
- What are you willing to do to move closer toward your goal?
- Who is going to support this vision?
- What is within your capacity to change?
- Create a personal mission statement. My mission is to bring positive change to the world by striving to fully immerse myself in authentic expression and communicating deeply and openly with others, encouraging them to do the same.
Viktor Frankl said, “Everyone has [her] own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein [she] cannot be replaced, nor can [her] life be repeated, thus, everyone’s task is unique as [her] specific opportunity to implement it.”
This can take some time to figure out.
Know that, above all else, your mission has never been to ride the bandwagon, nor has mine.
Knowing your character strengths and mission statement will give you a better idea of whether your choices are in line with who you are and what you really want.
Let them be your guiding lights.
Do we really ever want to be in a position where we are “falling for anything” or jumping on to “ride along” with the crowd?
Only by standing by our convictions and taking on a fearlessness toward change and carving our own unique lane will we be able to live out all that we are intended to be and do.
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