“The only constant in life is change.”
I think it’s safe to say this sentiment holds particularly true during your 20s.
It’s a unique time shaped mostly by an influx of new experiences, growth and transition.
With change often comes choice. As you navigate through this decade, the path can feel less defined than it once was.
There’s a higher degree of ambiguity about what the “right” answers are, and choices seem to carry more weight. The more cautious you become of making a misstep, the more overwhelming the decision-making process can feel.
For many of us, when faced with the unknown, we seek support. Whether we like it or not, we’re wired to depend on each other to a certain extent.
Weighing options with another person is a cathartic, comforting act and can do wonders for our perspective.
But, there is fine line between asking for advice and asking someone to tell you what to do.
I know this well. I am fortunate to be surrounded by people who are intelligent, accomplished and genuinely wonderful.
I aspire to emulate certain qualities of each person I hold dear to me because they all kick ass. But the truth is, none of them can or should define my direction and there have been times when I’ve let them.
The reason? In times of uncertainty, following instructions can feel safer than drawing your own conclusions.
But, the easy route is not necessarily the most fulfilling. Relying too heavily on the outside opinions of who you “should be” could derail you from who you actually are. Without a strong sense of self, you lose ownership of your life.
While other viewpoints certainly matter and should be heard, the choices you make ultimately need to be yours.
When recently faced with a perplexing decision, I talked to my parents, my brother, a bunch of my girlfriends and an Uber driver (or two).
Eventually, I realized the overabundance of input was actually preventing me from committing to anything. I was talking myself in circles to delay the inevitable.
I needed to independently determine my next move.
For the sake of clarity and direction, I had to ask myself a few questions only I could answer:
What are you afraid of?
Fear is paralyzing, and it can get in the way of getting what we want. I’ve found that in order to confront your fears head on, you need to know exactly what they are. So, I made an itemized list of everything that scares me.
Spoiler alert: This didn’t magically eliminate all my angst, but it did simplify my fears and make them conquerable. It’s okay to be scared of things.
It’s not okay to let those things be the focal point of your life and cloud your better judgment, especially in times of indecision.
How do you define success?
Monetary gains and financial security could be your personal measure of success. Or, maybe that’s not the case at all.
Often, we’re taught success needs to look a very specific way, but you can and should challenge the status quo.
“Success” holds no meaning if you’re disconnected and dissatisfied. When you can articulate what you deem your success to be, the better equipped you are to achieve it.
With achievement comes a greater sense of confidence. With confidence, that list of fears will feel even less significant.
What are you good at?
We all have our own set of specialties. It’s important to be well acquainted with your professional and personal aptitudes and not sell yourself short.
Being sure of your strengths could lead you to the people and situations that complement the talents you naturally possess.
What makes you happy?
When you’re genuinely content, you have the ability to be present. Instead of wasting time waiting for someday, you can take full advantage of today.
This doesn’t mean you should abandon your ambitions and goals, but that you’re simply able to engage with the here and now.
Some obvious answers might be right in front of you if you let yourself see them. Plus, being happy is just a lot of fun.
What do you really, truly want?
Maybe you want to dedicate yourself to a relationship. Maybe you’re ready to pursue a certain career path.
Maybe you want to quit your job, go on a road trip and see things you’ve never seen before. It doesn’t matter what you want, just as long as the answer to this question is 100 percent honest.
When you have the courage to admit to yourself what you’re really looking for, the rest will fall into place.
At the end of the day, despite my questions, lists and best efforts, there’s still a lot I don’t know about what should and will happen next.
But, I do know that each choice presents a chance to become better versed in who I am, and authenticity always uncovers the right answer.