What do you want to do with your life?
It’s a question every teen, twenty something, and real grown up struggles with at some point (and more likely multiple points) in their life. At some point in our lives every one of us considers the future and our place in it.
What are we gonna do with ourselves?
How are we gonna make our mark?
Where do we fit in?
What are others gonna think of our “career”?
We build it up to be such an important question that a lot of times people feel burdened by trying to find / make up an answer.
Maybe it’s not the right question to ask ourselves at all and maybe making up the answer doesn’t have to be a struggle.
Here are a few my thoughts on the topic:
Start up top.
You can’t control the cards you’re dealt, but you can control how you play your hand. When we lack time, really what we’re lacking are clear priorities. What really matters here? What are our goals? What’s our plan? It’s important that we set a few clear goals, take the time to develop an actionable plan, and then accept the fact that nothing will go as planned. That’s just how nature rolls and life happens. Shit happens. The point of planning and the point of monitoring our thoughts isn’t to convince ourselves that A-to-B is a straight line, it’s to familiarize ourselves with the objective, the routes, the alternative, and the contingencies.
You and I have got to check ourselves. It’s no one else’s job, because no one knows us the way we know ourselves. It’s on you and it’s on me. Our lives must be a reflection of our priorities and these priorities reveal themselves in time. Thus we’ve got to set aside a little time here and there to get clear on who we are and where we’re going. What matters to you? Does it show in how you spend your time? Because if it really matters, you’ll make the time.
Friends, family, and community are the most important aspect of life. Life is about building valuable relationships and contributing to others, not just stacking bills (bro). So, who’s your tribe? Who’re the people that give you energy? Build those bridges strong. Who’re the people that sap your energy? Tear those bridges down. You are the average of the 5 people you spend the majority of your time with, and being that time is our most valuable resource, who we spend it with largely determines who we’re becoming. Choose wisely. Be exclusive. Don’t waste your energy on suckers. Cut the sappers, multiply the givers, and you’ll find yourself surrounded by people that inspire you and remind of what life is all about. Experiences and people. You gotta love ‘em.
Discipline = freedom. The fact that there are so many options out there and so many ways to waste the day away just means that discipline has never been more valuable. Cutting distractions and limiting options gives direction to our energy, and if we want our lives to reflect our priorities we’ve got to be directed. Routine sits at the root of productivity. Boring, repetitive routine.
Sometimes the best you can do is endure, swallow your pride, bury your uneasiness, chomp down on your ego, keep your head down, and put in time. More times than not, we’ve got to take ownership. Because on the other side of this temporary discomfort is what you’re working for, and to stay focused is to finish strong. We’ve got to own our failures, share our successes, and make those above us look better than ourselves. It’s not about credit, it’s about work. It’s about taking pride in what we do and enjoying the process. More time than not will be spent en route than at the destination, so we might as well learn to enjoy the steps along the way. We might as well develop the discipline to continue moving forward.
Success is more rooted in action than inherent inheritance. Before John D. Rockefeller became the world’s richest man, he acted like the world’s richest man. Before Conor McGregor became the face of the UFC, he acted the face of the UFC. Before Tom Brady became the best quarterback to ever play the game, he acted like the best quarterback to ever play the game. Before [insert name here] became [insert successful attribute here], they acted like [insert successful attribute here]. The formula’s simple, isn’t it?
Act to become. That’s how we become who we want to become. We take those early (uncomfortable) steps to start acting the way we’d like to be, our actions become a reflection of our thoughts (and priorities), and then this cycle becomes self-perpetuating. It’s a life of action rather than complacency. For whatever it is you want out of life, you’ve got to hold yourself to it. No one else can do it the way you can, because no one else knows you the way you do. Wanna get healthy? Act healthy. Wanna be happy? Act happy. It’s really that simple.
Many people blindly pursue passion outside of opportunity and opportunity outside of passion. It’s important that we take those rose-colored glasses off, pull our head from our ass, and look at the world for the place it really is from time-to-time. It’s easy (and dangerous) to lose touch with reality when all we do is reinforce our perspective without considering any of the alternatives.
Here’s an alternative: you and I can make a career doing what we want. The thing is, many of us don’t really know what we want, so the best we can do is identify a general direction and then start walking. It’s the meeting place of passion and opportunity that leads to a fulfilling “career”, because it’s at this intersection that we find what we’re good at / enjoy and what the world needs.
If the world needs it, the market will value it. If the market values it, you can make a living in it. The key is not to go too far in either direction. Stay in the place where you’re doing something you enjoy (most of the time) AND you’re making a living. When you fall out of this place, and we all do, just correct the swing of the pendulum and find that place of balance. And while salary is a good indicator of value, there will be times (especially early in your career) where it’d be wiser to sacrifice salary for skill-building and experience.
The foundation precedes the house, and it’s on no one but you to build yours. (True) Wealth comes from the meeting place of passion and opportunity. What are you good at that the world needs? What skills are you building that others value?
So, what do you want to do with your life?
It’s really a shitty question because it’s so damn general. That, and nobody really fucking knows. We’re all just making it up as we go.
That’s the secret to life. To get a little better at making it up as you go. It’s not as much a question of who we are right now but who we’re trying to become in the next couple years.
Nobody really knows where they’ll be 10 or 20 years from now, BUT we can use what we know about ourselves to think about the next couple years of our life. We can use what we know to re-phrase that dreaded question to one that’s a little more practical.
How could you spend the next 2 - 3 years of your life getting closer to that point of balance (between passion and opportunity)?
The answer should be simple.
Simple, not easy.
MAKE NOTE: These are the thoughts of a know nothing 25 year old, so while I hope you found something useful, please take it with a grain of salt.