What should I do with my life?- This complicated situation, professionally or personally, comes across our lives several times at different phases, whether we are teenagers or retired adults – choosing subjects for college or university, taking up a job, getting into a relationship or nearing retirement. The quirky road ahead can be liberating or intimidating, depending on how you deal with it. However, having a right frame of mind and right approach towards life can lead you on the right path.
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“Nobody is going to do your life for you. You have to do it yourself, whether you’re rich or poor, out of money or making it, the beneficiary of ridiculous fortune or terrible injustice. And you have to do it no matter what is true. No matter what is hard. No matter what is unjust, sad, sucky things befall you. Self pity is a dead end road. You can make the choice to drive down it. It’s up to you to decide to stay parked there or to turn around and drive out” – Cheryl Stryed
While it is important to have a purpose in life, do not be so hard on yourself that the whole idea stresses you out. It is equally important to enjoy the life you are living. Your goal should be to live a life that is joyous and fruitful, both personally as well as professionally. Experience closely what life has to offer as it adds to understanding the bigger picture. Travel as often as you can, read as much as you can, talk to people, just go out there and explore.
Success is a relative term; it holds different meaning for different people. For one person success can be money, while for other it can be fame; one person might consider he has accomplished something if he has bought his dream house, whereas the other thinks his mission in life has been accomplished just by hitting the beach, relaxing and reading a book. Success can be self actualization; it can also be helping people attain it. The very notion of success varies substantially. Therefore, it is important you understand what success means to you. Do not think of it from your parents, friends, peers or society’s perspective. Be true to yourself before you embark on the journey of life.
When we were kids, our imagination used to run wild – reaching the moon and stars, fighting the beasts, flying the fastest airplane in the world, crossing the mountains and oceans, and what not. And if you see, all these things have been achieved by someone. If not for their imagination, we might still be stuck in primitive age.
Your imagination and your gut have all the answers to life if you listen carefully. Revering about the ideas and notions is a great tool if you want to answer the question, “What should I do with my life?”
So find a quiet place, away from all distractions, where you can introspect and come up with your own answers. Ask yourself, “What do I want to achieve in life?” “What intrigues and excites me?” Think hard and see what comes up in your mind. Then take a piece of paper and write it down.
A study says that if you write something, it is likely to stay in your mind for a longer period than just reading/thinking about it. So whatever it is that you aspire to be, or want to achieve, write it down. It doesn’t have to be a 10 year goal. Start from small steps. Look at short term goals; when you achieve one, move on to the next. But declaring a mission statement helps you to stay focused, and in turn you make better decisions.
Do not get so absorbed in achieving your mission or target that you stop enjoying the process. The journey you lead of self-discovery will transform you, and it is a once in a lifetime opportunity. You have so many doors and options open for you, and you can choose the direction you like. At its best you shall succeed; at its worst, you can change the path and follow a new direction.
There are obstacles in the journey, but let it not deter you. Be present in this moment and embrace this journey that you are in.
As effective and productive multi tasking sounds, it does not allow a person to focus at one thing completely. Whether you are driving while talking to your friend, cooking dinner while watching TV, going through your Facebook or Instagram feed while at your child’s piano recital, you are not completely there. When you focus on one thing, you’d be more productive, better problem solvers, adaptive and better decision makers.
Similarly, in life or in a career, there might be a several things you need do or want to learn; to do things in the most productive manner take one thing at a time; excel in it and then go on to the next.
The only time you fail is when you decide not to try again. If the Thomas Edison had this fear of failure, we might not have had our first electric bulb for a long long time. Whether in career or life in general, the idea of failure is going to be your biggest challenge, scaring you and holding you back.
Have an open outlook towards things and a strong will power. Have the mindset of an explorer to understand that every process goes through trial and error – several times. Before you succeed, you might fail at something repeatedly, but your grit and determination is what that shall keep you going.
Make a list of people you admire for their work. It can be in your field of interest, but not necessarily – a famous artist, your favorite sportsperson, an accomplished author or better yet, an acclaimed entrepreneur whom you can learn from. Typically, the reason you admire that person is because you would want to walk down the same path and reach at the same place. Before contacting that person, get to know everything possible about them, watch their interviews, and read about them online. Working as an apprentice under someone you idolize would make you pick up skills much faster than trying to learn them on your own.
One thing we need to discern is that our life is not the same in 60s as it was in 20s. It is a series of different phases. People often have this belief that the journey or the career they set on to, they have to stick to it for the rest of their lives. But this concept is all too wrong. You might find your life’s calling early on or as late as after your retirement.
There have been several examples of people starting off in one industry and shifting to another, even after 20 or 30 years. There are people who have quit medical services to pursue painting! Also, what you love at one point of time might not necessarily excite you later in life. But that is alright. Your likings, interests, desires can change with time and all you have to do is welcome it.
Success comes to those who do not have the fear of losing. This is true for your career and life in general. There is an element of a risk taker in every successful entrepreneur. Think out of the box and step outside the box; be willing to take chances and calculated risks. If you want to be a winner, you have to overcome your fear, look for opportunity where others see danger, be willing to explore new ventures and break new grounds and reach for the stars.
It might sound clichéd, but it holds true. Confucius rightly said, “Do what you love”. His words, “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life”, have been repeated over and over. When you are passionate about something, you are brimmed with excitement and there is so much energy that makes your work and life bright and interesting. When you are doing something you love, there is never a dull moment.
Find that passion in yourself and put all your energies in it and then you’ll see for yourself how beautiful the world is.
Where do you want to see yourself 10 years or 20 years from now? Talk to your future self to find that out. It is one of the most powerful tools to analyze what life means to you.
You may ask your future self the following 3 questions:
To be focused and passionate about the things you love to do and your work, you have to be dispassionate about the things that happen around you, the external factors. Do not give up on your goals, desires and your aim. All you have to do is to remove the attachment to the outcome and maintain your calm. When you do that, joining your real aim with indifference at the same time, you would be a successful entrepreneur.
In the absence of indifference, we become prisoners of our circumstances. We are more worried about spoiling the current situation than looking forward to the positive aspect of what might happen.
So, get hold of self, sooner the better, because life is short. The obstacles, the hardships are short-lived, what matters most is your will to find your calling in this life and going all out to achieve it. Don't be afraid to leave the safety of home or to take the unbeaten path, the universe needs you to reach out to your fate and follow your destiny with passion. If you succeed, it's very good, but it's also okay if you don't. Pursuing something passionately, does not automatically translates into success. Try again, if you want to, or pursue some other passion of yours.