The ‘How To Know What To Do With Your Life’ Illusion
I would bet you any money that at one point in your life, you’ve sat and wondered how to know what to do with your life.
Growing up, you were probably asked a million and one times ‘What do you want to for a living when you grow up?’ or ‘Have you decided on a career yet?’
Ummm the answer to that would be….No, and, no.
You see, I don’t have a grand plan for my life. Never have. Probably never will.
Expectations Of Others
Growing up, I was lucky enough to win a scholarship to my school, and from then on, I had these expectations placed upon me.
I was meant to achieve straight As, go to some important university before deciding on a sensible but lucrative career path.
These expectations terrified me and instead of trying to live up to them, I stopped trying at school.
I would do the minimum to get decent grades and use the excuse of ‘Not trying’ to never have to deal with failure.
What people thought of me took up a lot of my time, I secretly obsessed over trying to figure out how to know to what to do with my life.
There’s a drawer in my bedroom filled with diaries where I tried to figure out my strengths and what careers I would be suited to.
My google search history is littered with queries like –
‘How to find a job you like’
‘How to decide on a career’
‘Can you catch chlamydia from a toilet seat?’
Caring What Others Think
Most of my early twenties were wasted by caring what others thought of me. I was worried people thought I was a failure because I wasn’t living up to their expectations.
Eventually though, I learned to be more comfortable in myself and I realised that I was never going to figure out what I want to do for a career.
And I stopped caring.
So I don’t have some bigger purpose I’m trying to serve. SO. WHAT.
I’m happy just being me, enjoying my life and changing my direction whenever my gut tells me to.
Being a digital nomad was something I chose so that I would be able to do what I love – living abroad and travelling.
Working in front of a computer isn’t something I love but it does enable me to make money while living my passion.
If your job allows you to enjoy a few hobbies, go on holiday a couple times a year. Then that’s cool! It doesn’t matter that if your career doesn’t come with an impressive title or fulfil your deepest desires.
Society’s Obsession With A Life Purpose
As a society we’re obsessed with trying to find meaning in our lives. From early on in life we’re trained to try and figure out what to do with our lives.
We’re led to believe that a life without a purposeful career, isn’t a meaningful life.
The pressure placed on teenagers to choose a career path is ridiculous. How is a 16-year-old meant to find a job they will like for the rest of their working lives?
Find meaning finding our path and our purpose because that’s what we’ve been taught we have to do, find a career path and then stick to it.
High school students are bombarded with psychometric tests meant to identify their strengths. These tests are meant to help you figure out how to know what to do with your life and decide on a career.
My psychometric tests told me that I would be good at working with people, a managerial type role or a high-pressure sales positon.
Yeh. . . alright. . . have you seen me under pressure? There’s a 50% chance I will wet myself.
The whole illusion of having to figure out what we’re meant to do for a living is a very new phenomenon.
100 years ago, people didn’t waste time worrying what they should do with their lives.
My grandad was a farmer from when he was a boy until he retired.
Try as I might, I can’t seem to picture my grandad furiously scribbling into a diary ‘What should I do with my life?’ as a teenage boy.
He was too busy feeding pigs and kissing the village girls to deal with luxurious worries about how to know what to do with your life.
My grandad worked, he enjoyed life’s pleasures as and when they came and always made sure to crack a joke daily. That was it.
Even 50 years ago, our parents generation didnt have this luxury of having to decide what to do with their lives.
It’s social media and the illusion of a perfect life that is leaving us feeling inadequate for not having a life purpose or an important career.
Another factor to consider when you’re lying awake at night wondering ‘What should I do with my life?’, is that everyone’s putting a front.
We’re all so concerned with what people think of us that we pretend that we have everything figured out.
But, actually, most people who seem to have their shit figured out are hiding some truths.
Get a couple of WKDs down them and the truth starts to come out.
Chances are they have no idea what they want to do with their lives either. They’re just muddling through like the rest of us.
No Grand Plan
There’s no secret formula to figuring how to decide what to do with your life.
Don’t feel like you have to figure out have this grand plan for your life (some people do and that’s great).
If you’re lucky enough to have a job (Unemployment in Venezuela is currently at 44%, August 2019.)
Then maybe stop complaining and count yourself lucky.
Maybe one day you’ll decide on an exciting career path, maybe you won’t. And that’s cool.
Focus on today and tomorrow. Find joy in the little things that make you happy, because at the end of the day, a happy life is the goal.
Trust your gut. Explore your options. But don’t beat yourself up if you never find a life purpose.
My name is Phoebe and I want to show other people that you can design a life you want. I like to write about motivation, working online and self-improvement.