04 Jun This or that? An opinion on life choices.
Finding who you are and what you want to do is something everyone is interested it in. While this is mostly relevant to young people it does not exclude the midlife crisis types (sorry people 40+) or anyone looking for a career change. No matter if you are young or old I’m pretty sure you have read something on the topic at some point in your life. It is highly debated after all. Nowadays there are many gurus and coaches promising to help you find “your true calling” and at the same time looking to relive you of your hard earned cash.
Anyway, here’s my 2 cents on the matter, obviously speaking from personal experience. Oh… and I won’t charge you anything for it 😉 .
My 2 cents.
I’ve more or less done it all. I have read books, tried coaching, experimented with different career paths, started businesses. You name it, I have probably tried it at some point. I still do some of these things, but it isn’t always helpful. So I developed a different approach. I basically flipped the question upside down.
Instead of asking myself the standard things like:
What do I want to do? What do I want to work? What makes me happy?
I started asking:
What do I NOT want? What work do I want to NOT do? What makes me unhappy?
You might be thinking. “Hey Alex, that seems awfully negative and counter-productive”. You may be right, but the point of this is not to stop yourself from doing things and focus on the negative, rather to start narrowing down. Basically, when you know what you DON’T WANT to be doing you can start narrowing down your options and it makes it easier to choose what you WANT TO DO.
Too many options.
We live in a world where there is endless possibilities to make something of yourself. There are just too many choices and options. Naturally people want to pick the best one for themselves. However, some people just become overwhelmed with the endless opportunities and career paths we can take. So overwhelmed in fact, that they may end up taking years to make a choice, if they do at all. Why? Because its hard to pick the best one, when there are so many. If you can relate to that than the approach I illustrated above may be useful for you.
I’ll give you an example with myself. I tried working a normal office desk job and I absolutely hated it, so I quit and started a business. That’s hard and risky, but I know I don’t have another option because I tried the normal way and hated it. So I know what I don’t want (a normal job with a boss) and that kind of narrows it down. I either have to freelance or start a business.
Here’s another one. I wanted to be fit and exercise, but running for miles everyday was a nightmare. I couldn’t take any courses like boxing, martial arts or rock climbing, because those happened at the same time of day and I couldn’t always make it. That meant I needed something with the flexibility to go at whatever time of day I wanted, but still involve a variety of activities. I found a gym that has long opening hours and plenty of equipment to design my own workout and started doing that.
So you see, first I find what my limiting factors are and what I can’t do. Then I find options that work despite that. You look at all the possibilities to do something and then you start picking off the ones you don’t like. That usually halves all the possibilities and leads to much less hesitation.
Find the limits and then work with them, not against them.