Many people settle for unsatisfactory choices in the major areas of their lives, like career or relationships. There is a good reason for this if you are from my generation, the Baby Boomers.  We grew up being told to be logical, to choose things that will please our parents, or to rely on the opinion of friends and family before making any decisions. We learned that our most profound wishes were pipe dreams and that it made no sense to pursue them.

After all of these years, Baby Boomers know this never worked. We learned that settling is never satisfying in the long run and a lifetime of it leads to years of quiet desperation. Sadly, we have passed these faulty traditions on to our following generations before we learned to know better.

The Wow Factor

Our mentors were wrong. Following our dreams and passions are how we connect to our Higher Self. It is the way to self-actualization. So how do people break away from these long held patterns? By putting faith on their inner guide.

Trusting your inner wisdom can be a scary thing because it seems to go against the current of normalcy you have been taught. Following your inner voice can make things turn out a lot different from what we imagined. Nevertheless, I assure you, following your inner guide’s lead will bring a sense joy and fulfillment to your life.

I must confess, I struggle with this at times, but I am doing better at it every day. The results are wonderful when I take this leap o0f faith. I rely on a process I call “the wow factor”. Simply put, the wow factor is that inner knowledge you get when you are certain you are making the right decision. There is no hesitancy or red flags. It is an inner knowing that—although indescribable—you are certain beyond a doubt this is what you must do.

Here is an example. In 2003, I was driving an old Mitsubishi SUV at the time that had served me well hauling around my family, but the time had come for me to buy a newer car. Although the kids were now full grown, everyone whose opinion I solicited talked up the virtues of buying another SUV or minivan. All family members and friends were on board with this, for they insisted I would still need to haul things for the yard or carry baggage for vacations.

But deep down inside, I was not convinced. A few years earlier, when Audi car makers came out with the TT model, they blew me away. I loved the TT Coupe, which was the soft top convertible. Up to this point, if asked to describe the car I always wanted, I could not have done, but now I knew, for I was certain Audi had uncovered my dream for me. I was experiencing my wow factor!

But I didn’t go buy one, for I judged that others would deem such a purchase to be illogical, so I went about looking for a car that fit the opinions I had been offered.

Yet, no matter how many sensible choices I considered; my heart told me I didn’t want them. In a moment of clarity I realized the only one who could stop me from achieving this dream was meI I then rushed to the Audi dealer and bought the car of my dreams. I didn’t ask anyone for their permission or approval, I went against society’s better sense and fulfilled my dream. This Audi TT convertible accompanied me for 16 years and I loved driving it every day.

You may be thinking that this story fits the description of someone going through what many will label a “Midlife crisis”. Was I living out in my middle age that obscure psychological theory where one questions their self-identity, loose their self-confidence or struggle to face their mortality? If a midlife crisis entails giving up the unsatisfactory values that had made me settle for mediocre things in my life, then I was going through one. Whatever it is society labels discarding the mediocre for the things that bring you passion, I highly recommend it. But then you have to learn to live according to the wow factor.

An excellent start is to back away from a life you no longer want, but if you don’t learn how to stop settling, you will simply re-create a different version of the life you left behind. This is why trusting in your inner wow factor is an important change to make.

A maybe is not good enough

 If you still are wondering what the wow factor is like, let me describe what it is not. Feeling unsure—a maybe—is the opposite of wow.

Some will argue that maybe means giving the consideration another chance. Nothing wrong with that. If you believe you must give an option more deliberation, do so. But if after taking a second or third look, you are still in a state of maybe, then the answer is no on taking that new job, starting a new relationship, buying that home or car, having more children, investing in that stock, following your new boyfriend across the country, etc. If you don’t reach the point where you see yourself happily doing it, even though you know the risks, then the answer is no.

Pushing past your fears 

Sometimes, even when we sense the wow factor within, we dismiss it. If you are discouraging yourself from taking action that you think would make you happy with negative beliefs like “that could never happen to me”, “I am too old to start a new career”, “I am not attractive enough to find another romantic partner “, or (my personal favorite) “doing that would not be logical”, then you are allowing your fears to win.

When your fears are at work, you know your ego is driving the decision. Remember, your ego wants to stay comfortable and keep you from taking risks. Fear of the unknown is one of his/her favorite tools to dissuade you.  These ego desires are blocking the path to your authentic self and why you must push past them.


Living by the wow factor is not easy. It takes courage to turn down options you think are good just because you have some reservations. Sometimes I want more immediate gratification and I mistakenly choose things that don’t serve me well. But when I base my decisions on the wow factor, not only do I feel more aligned with my soul, I also see the Universe conspiring with me in support. The right doors open; I find the money; I meet the right person to help me; I get the energy and passion I need to pursue my desire. My path becomes clearer. the same can happen to you.

Remember, paying gratitude for your life forward will reward you with a great sense of joy and contentment.

Photo by Isaiah Rustad on Unsplash