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10 Signs you're on the right track (even if it doesn't feel like it)

Updated August 10, 2017

At every stage in our lives, we feel bombarded by the expectations of others about the life we're going to lead. These expectations can even create unrealistic ideas in our own minds, making us feel like we're not making progress or that our lives aren't heading in the right direction. The truth is that things are more likely to be fine than you think. Here are some ways to tell.

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You're OK with failure

When we're young, we have a tendency to dread failure. For example, a 2014 study by charity YoungMinds discovered that over 50% of young people believed they would be failures if they didn't get good exam results. By contrast, you're on the right track if you'd identified failure as something that happens from time to time -- but not something to get too upset over.

You understand when to let drama go

Appreciating the value of failure comes from understanding the relative importance of things. This valuable lesson can also help you put your social life in perspective. Young people get very upset about interpersonal rivalries -- who said what to whom, who secretly hates whom. As we age, we can either leave this petty obsession with status behind us or remain trapped in it. If you've learned to put the rivalries of friends and partners in their proper place, you're doing well.

You have somewhere to call home

Having a home -- some space to call your own -- doesn't mean that you need to own a huge house or even have your own flat. It just means that you're able to establish a space that reflects your personality and that you can control. Having your own space makes you happier, healthier and more productive; if you've got that, even in a small way, you're heading in the right direction.

You can be honest about what you want

Fear of criticism keeps often keeps us from being up-front about what we want, whether at work or in relationships. If you can overcome this and be frank about what you want without worrying about its effect on others, you're definitely on the right path.

You're happy liking what you like

The fear that others will criticise us can be very limiting. This insecurity makes us feel ashamed of the things we like and even pretend that we don't like them. If you can be open and honest about what you like, acknowledging criticism without being crippled by it, you have reason to be happy.

You can cook

Seriously, you need to be able to cook a little. Not gourmet chef quality, but at least a little. You'll never say to yourself "boy, I regret being able to cook." If you're making your own meals without using the microwave -- at least every now and then -- you're on the right track.

You're working on something you're passionate about

Ideally, your career should be connected to something that you really believe in. That isn't always possible for everyone, though. Nonetheless, it's still possible to make room in your life for the things that really matter, from art to hobbies to family. If you're making time for the things you're passionate about, you're doing well.

You're comfortable with uncertainty

Some people think of not having the right answer for anything as a form of failure, but it's quite different. Knowing you don't know the answer to something frees you to find it out; people who can't acknowledge this never learn anything. If you've got the self-awareness to recognise that you don't know everything, you've taken a step in the right direction.

You can laugh at yourself

Believing in yourself doesn't mean pretending you never do anything stupid. It isn't always easy, but if you can learn to laugh at your own mistakes you've made a very important step to being healthy, well-adjusted -- and not a fool.

You have some kind of financial plan

You may be deep in debt, you may have bills piling up, and it may seem like you'll never afford that dream home. In tough times, these feelings are all too common. But as long as you have a financial plan, you're on the right track -- don't judge yourself by your situation, but on how you're going to react to it.

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About the Author

Dr James Holloway has been writing about games, geek culture and whisky since 1995. A former editor of "Archaeological Review from Cambridge," he has also written for Fortean Times, Fantasy Flight Games and The Unspeakable Oath. A graduate of Cambridge University, Holloway runs the blog Gonzo History Gaming.

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