Here are 5 ways to answer the question, what should I do with my life?
“Until a man selects a definite purpose in life he dissipates his energies and spreads his thoughts over so many subjects and in so many directions that they lead not to power, but to indecision and weakness.”
It is not unusual for you nor anyone else to be clueless about what to make out of their lives.
Our race evolved and continue to evolve till the end of time. Whole knowledge packaged and delivered has never been our staple. In fact, we depart planet earth knowing less than we are ignorant of.
Whenever those unnerving thoughts pop up; of knowing what you are passionate about, what your ‘why’ or mission is on earth, give yourself a break and realise that most members of our race find themselves in a similar rut as you.
Sadly, most people never bother to ask these questions nor endeavour to find answers to them. They lived and died to fit in, travelling downwind; along the oft-travelled lane.
No one, an expert or otherwise, holds the rights to lecture you on what you should do with your life. It ought to be something we all figure out on our own since we know ourselves better than anyone else.
Sadly, that is not the case.
The task of discovering our lives purposes has been left to the mercy of experts, some of whom are doing a great job and making a stupendous living out of life-coaching, while others are merely pseudo-experts dishing out shallow advice and leading multitudes down precipices.
If you are just starting out in life, this is the right time to start digging deep for answers to this critical question. Having travelled far the wrong path or been led deeply astray is no cause for alarm nor is it an excuse to despair. It’s never too late to forge a new path or to make incremental changes to a current path until it falls in place with the intended future.
But how do you know whether you’re travelling off course or not? you know that when your work falls into all or any of these categories.
- 1. When your career or entrepreneurial journey is not a part of a grand scheme of your making.
Great people dreamt of a prosperous future long before they attained it. Visualizing the future comes with immense benefits. It brings to the fore rosy details of what lies ahead, thereby awakening within you a ‘giant’ will and zeal to pursue the possibilities of an auspicious tomorrow.
“A person with a clear purpose will make progress on even the roughest road. A person with no purpose will make no progress on even the smoothest road.”
Typically, dreams remain as dreams until they receive massive actions. The actions that see a dream to fruition spring out of goals forged into actionable plans.
Your business or career is adrift when your chosen path is not a product of your making.
The statement of the motivational author, Tony Gaskins Jr. that “if you don’t build your own dreams, someone else will hire you to help build theirs,” holds true in this regard.
If your business or career is by design not by default then you’re on course.
“Dream big dreams; only big dreams have the power to move men’s soul.”
It is also possible to have chosen the wrong business or career, you can use the suggestions that follow to change or align your current career to a more befitting one.
- 2. Lack of meaning or fulfillment.
If your work lacks the element of challenge and the ability to offer you new experiences, it becomes monotonous and devoid of meaning.
In the popular Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, all humans share a burning need for self-actualisation and this need occupies the apex of Maslow’s pyramid.
“What a man can be, he must be. This need we call self-actualization.” Maslow said.
I read and listened to numerous arguments against doing work you’re passionate about and none of them came as close to holding water as going after your passions and digging out your innate talents.
One strong argument presented against following your passion alone became the subject of a TEDx speech by Benjamin Todd titled; To find work you love, don’t follow your passion. Really?
According to Benjamin, his interests were martial arts and philosophy among a host of others and none of them had prospects for a promising career, so he ruled them out.
He even said he loved investing as a child growing up. So he couldn’t make a career out that passion. Warren Buffet did, what could be more valuable than the philanthropy of Mr. warren. No billionaire gives away as much money to charity to the less-privilege as Warren. Ask his friend, Bill Gates.
Rather than focusing on our passions, which sounds self-centered and devoid of altruism, Benjamin said, the secret to a fulfilling career is to “focus on getting good at something that genuinely helps others and makes the world a better place.”
A fulfilling career will enable you to identify, pursue, and reach your personal unique potential.
- 3. Work that fails to tap into your innate talents and passions.
Your ideal work must serve as a vocation; like a hobby, not something to quickly get away from. Your hobby can engage your senses in a way mere work can’t.
Your work ought to and can indeed be fulfilling and pleasurable as any hobby. But that is only when the work is connected to a deep voice within you.
The problem usually arise when we see our work and hobbies as diametrically opposite. But it doesn’t always have to be so.
Every one of us has a calling to fulfill in life. This calling stems from deep within our individuality and unique character.
As Robert Greene puts it “your work then is something connected deeply to who you are, not a separate compartment in your life. You develop, then a sense of your vocation.”
In the words of Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe,
“Everything on this earth has its difficult sides! Only some inner drive-pleasure, love- can help us overcome obstacles.”
In Benjamin Todd’s TEDx speech, he concluded that,
“To find work you love, don’t just follow your passion, rather do what’s valuable, explore, build skills, and solve big, pressing problems. From that, fulfillment and a passionate career will emerge.”
That holds true, but in the language of Jim Collins, bestselling Author of Good TO GREAT, ditch the “‘Tyranny of the OR’ and embrace ‘the genius of the AND.'”
You can tap into your passion, do work that’s valuable and make lots of money doing so. why not? All self-made billionaires and millionaires did just that.
- 4. It adds little or no value to society.
Your work must provide enormous value to society and the world at large. Successful entrepreneurs met their successes by providing products and services that solved ‘big, pressing problems.’
You’ll succeed faster if you hit upon pressing needs that most people neglect and you set out to provide the right solutions to them.
While some careers tend to be more valuable than others, especially in this digital economy. Certain highly valuable skills apply across industries, you can learn such skills to become more valuable.
If your current work offers little or no room for growth, soon you’ll be faced with a stagnation that comes with a possible eviction. Come to think of it, most of what is taught in schools become obsolete before some of us enter the job market.
That’s why you must always be open to change, be willing to acquire new skills and be prepared to take on new tasks and challenges.
If you can learn faster than the competition, you’ll always outsmart them.
- 5. Work that holds no potential for a sizable profit and has no room for growth.
This one seems like a no-brainer and I bet it is. Profits are not the sole drivers of business initiatives but they are indispensable, to state the obvious. They drive business and career growth.
To hold high income-generating potential, your work must be multi-dimensional. That way it can make far-reaching impacts that spawn profits.
Similarly, skills that facilitate the understanding and a better appreciation of the demands of the bottom line in any industry creates more value than you just being good at your job.
For instance, project management and business analysis skills are applicable to a lot of professional backgrounds and instantly make you more valuable than those without such skills. Same can be said of coding and data analysis for those in the tech industries. Check out this article on MONEY.com for details on valuable career skills.
Conclusively, you must ditch stagnation and embrace the continuous evolution of what you can be.
Understand that identifying the right career or business idea is a continuous process and be willing to stick to the journey of exploring possible options until you hit the right mark. These take time, effort and persistence.
What other ways have you used to set yourself on the right course in your business and life? Please don’t hesitate to share with me and other readers.