At some point, we’ve all found ourselves pondering the painful question, “What the hell am I doing with my life?" Some days, we feel like we’re on track. Other days, we wonder if we’ve made all the right turns. If you've got your future all planned out, good for you. Many of us, however, have no idea what the next five years of our lives will look like.
It is easy to imagine your vision of success: the car you’ll drive, the places you’ll travel, and the toys you’ll own. But what’s more difficult is understanding how to get there and doing it. When considering our careers, we’re faced with various questions: will I find one thing that satisfies me? What if I get bored? If I do what I love, will I make enough money? Will I be successful? Is it even worth it?
Of course, ideally, we would like to have it all figured out. Having it all planned out would mean knowing exactly what lies ahead of us so that we are never surprised by challenges, and so we can assure our friends and family they don’t have to worry about us. It’s nice to have a secure path to follow, leading us to success, status, and financial stability. Knowing that we have a concrete, foolproof plan would give us the assurance that it will all work out safely. But a set plan doesn't always exist, especially if you choose the path less traveled.
If you have a roof over your head and resources for an education, you’re better off than a great deal of people in the world. If you are privileged enough to have the luxury of choosing your career, you owe it to yourself to take advantage of that freedom. Sometimes we have a good idea of what we want to do, but were not sure how to get there. And so many people get caught up in settling for a career for that very reason.
We may get rushed into making a decision because we think we’re supposed to have it all figured out by a certain point. People say, the faster you figure things out, the easier it will be. While that is true, to rush a decision that significantly impacts your life is not something to be done prematurely. It should be done with thought and care, seeing as this is your happiness and future we’re talking about. Work takes up a huge part of our lives, and for that reason, it is important to avoid settling for a career and to do what you’re passionate about.
Make no mistake about it; I don’t want to come off as if I know exactly where I am going. I have interests and experience in different areas, but if you were to ask me what job I’ll be working in five years, it would be a tie between a gifted TV-comedy writer, a top beauty executive, and an award-winning author. My varying interests in careers are not a demonstration of my foolishness and lack of direction, rather my honest passions that bring me the most joy and fulfillment. Work is most satisfying when you love what you do, and the only way to figure that out is to find just what it is that you love most.
When deciding on your future, you must consider your personal happiness. You really have to question your motives. If it’s money, stop yourself right now. Money will not make you happy. You might say, I want to be successful; just being happy doesn't pay the bills. But if you follow your heart and work your ass off, you will be successful, which does pay the bills. It’s better to be both happy and successful.
Whatever you decide to pursue, make sure you are passionate about it. When you do work you’re truly passionate about, you work harder, you find grit when faced with challenges, and dedication and commitment to good work comes without much thought because you enjoy doing it. The strength of character that passion creates is the very element that makes our chances of success more likely.
But with pursuing passion comes uncertainties. The uncertainty of the future is what causes fear, anxiety, and frustration. It is the reason we churn the possible visions of our future over and over again and flip back and forth between thoughts of excitement that our lives’ bring when we’re successful, and the anxiety that fear brings of what life might be like if we fail. The thing about uncertainty is that it is inevitable. The best way to deal with our future’s uncertainty is to embrace it.
Following passion often means taking the road less traveled, and in order to reach success, you must accept that you will not always know exactly what to do, or expect. Regardless, you continue to relentlessly carry on until it becomes clear. Finding comfort in uncertainty allows you to focus on the present and less on the result. It gives you the confidence to proceed in your current progress towards your goals.
If you are carefully considering your decision to strike off in on direction or another, you have to have faith that it is all within good reason. Every career-related experience you have plays a part in your journey to success, whether it brings you closer to your goals or gives you an opportunity to better understand yourself. The path to success never makes perfect sense in the moment, but always comes full circle when looking back on it. As Steve Jobs famously said, “You will never be able to connect the dots beforehand.”
There will be times when you are discouraged from, and possibly even doubtful of, reaching success. These times might arise when you’re confused about taking a job, your future job security, unsure of how to make ends meet, or wondering what will happen if you fail. This is where trust in yourself comes in. You have to truly believe that you are capable of dealing with whatever life hands you. The trick is to become a lifelong learner; it is your best defense.
We’re living in a time where job descriptions and skills change as rapidly as we change our minds. It’s essential that we continuously add necessary skills to our repertoire and not become complacent with our abilities. You have to be willing to fully accept responsibility for leading your life, and that means believing that when sh*t hits the fan, you won’t fail to take care of yourself, make a plan to firmly get back on your feet, and do what you need to do to keep moving forward.
Days of discouragement will come and go, but when you are doing what you love, even those days are worth the battle. Above all, know that you will never go wrong pursuing passion; it’s only matter of finding the best way to manifest it. Find it, and success will follow.
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