Wouldn’t it be nice if our life paths were all pre-determined?
How much simpler would things be if at some given age – let’s say 15 years old – you open the mailbox to find your personalized Life Map, laying out all of the major decisions you’ll have to make in life well in advance. It could tell you things like:
• What kind of education to get.
• Who you’re going to marry.
• Which career to pursue.
And everything else that we tend to agonize and second guess ourselves over until we wish someone would just make the decisions for us.
Everything would be pretty straightforward.
We could do away with all this doubt and wondering what to do with our lives.
We’d just follow the plan, and everything would turn out fine.
The only problem?
You would become unfathomably bored.
We humans like to think we’re simple, but the reality is we’re actually rather complicated creatures.
There are 6 things that humans need in order to be fulfilled.
3. A feeling of importance
4. Love & Connection
You don’t need to read past number 2 to realize we contradict ourselves even on our most basic desires.
Certainty and variety?
We need both to be happy.
Too much uncertainty, and we get anxious. We feel overwhelmed and bogged down by choices.
We feel lost in the woods without a path to guide us, never sure what’s up ahead or if we’re even headed in the right direction.
If you’ve ever felt that way, you know it can be debilitating and discouraging.
You become paralyzed by inaction, because you don’t know which action to take.
And yet you feel dissatisfied where you are, because you’re not making any progress.
On the other hand, having too much certainty can be just as bad.
When people know exactly what’s going to happen in their lives, they tend to lose interest.
Things become repetitive. We simply go through the motions, no longer engaged in what we’re doing, no longer learning or adapting or acting on impulse.
This is why so many marriages become stale and jobs become mundane.
We’ve stopped surprising our partner and growing with them; we no longer find our work a challenge.
Fulfillment lies somewhere between certainty and variety.
If you really had all the answers, life would become unbearably boring.
So rest assured that not knowing everything is absolutely okay.
When you feel lost in life, you’re usually not as far off track as you think.
And the best place to start is exactly where you are.
It all comes from decisions. Start by making one right now to move forwards.
The direction doesnt matter as much as the motion.
Even if you’re heading down the wrong track, you can use the momentum to correct course later.
You can’t steer a stationary ship.
At any given time we usually have a few ideas in our heads for things we could be doing.
The problem is we’re too scared to actually pick one and make a move on it.
Choose one of your current ideas, preferably a small one, and commit to it.
Decide that you’re going to act on that idea and you’re going to follow through.
It could be something as small as waking up early every morning to go for a run, or going to a seminar you’re curious about.
Don’t do anything too drastic this early on.
The goal in the beginning is just to get moving and shake the rust off your wheels.
After you’ve made this decision and followed through, try it again with another one.
It can be slightly bigger this time. Once you see that one through, try it again with something bigger.
What you’re doing is investigating your interests that have gone ignored, while at the same time building confidence in your decision making.
There’s a good chance that one of your ideas will materialize into something more – an area of interest you hadn’t thought about, a skill you didn’t know you had, a connection that can help you get started on a new path.
Eventually – and I can’t say when exactly – you’re going to look around and realize you’re heading somewhere.
You might not know exactly where just yet, but you will know that it’s somewhere new, and most likely somewhere better.
The evidence will be undeniable.
You’ll be making progress, even if you don’t know exactly what you’re progressing towards.
You don’t need exact GPS coordinates for where you’re heading.
Your inner compass will tell you whether you’re moving in the right direction or not.
That’s all you really need.
Remember that if you did have exact GPS coordinates for your destination, if you did have everything laid out for you in an easy to follow guide, that you would lose interest very quickly.
None of us knows exactly where we’ll end up. That’s what makes it all so interesting.
As Steve Jobs said: You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.
Keep moving forward, trust that the dots will connect for you, and one day you’ll look back to see they did.