When You Have No Idea What You’re Doing!

These days, there’s a lot of talk about discovering your single one passion that you will chase forever. It seems like anyone with a brain is subject to social pressure “what do you do”, “what do you want to do” etc it seems like that question you were asked when you were young “what do you want to be when you are older”. I see loads of students entering university degrees, spending thousands and thousands, even going into debt just to be chasing there thing that will make their parents happy they had a university degree and they will appear “clever” or “smart”. But the truth is, passions change, the journey to get there can be confusing. And who said you could only ever have one passion you want to turn into a career?!?

Some people freely exchange their ideals for a fat paycheck an extra thousand pound out of a graduate job- for what? An iPhone?! Or they become static in the hope that their undetermined dream will one day become a reality! But how does this work logistically? Everyone wants to win the game where they find and devote to their passion, whilst having a sustainable- luxurious lifestyle. We search for epiphanies when, in fact, we should be learning to live the journey, with ambiguity. The idea of clarity and “he/she” has it planned out is the biggest lie!

Of course there are people who know exactly what they were born to do, who have had a calling since they first tried on a pair of ballet shoes or kicked a soccer ball. However, most who have a dream struggle to articulate and action it. They don’t know what it is or what it should look like. Often, all they know is this thing that they’re doing is wrong. A vague premonition of an un-lived life. So where do we go from here?

1: Stop waiting for clarity

I have this friend who has recently just graduated and they have all these ideas of what they want to do next. “maybe I’ll do law, I’m really interested in medicine, I want to travel, I want to help third world countries…” Now this friend is pretty self-aware and thought maybe she’s just drawn to things as they are deemed socially acceptable. She later confessed that she was unsure what her calling was. Was this her dream or just another idea? The hardest part of finding your calling, it seems, is naming it.

The truth, is we don’t often know what we should be doing until we start doing it. Experience leads to competence, and competence creates confidence. Trust your instincts stop listening to every friend or acquaintance who wants to give you opposing advice because they unconsciously want to feel better about themselves and reassured that “they have got it figured out”.

But why is this trial neglected? Because of fear and error. “trial and error”

“The project you are most scared to do is the one that holds your greatest growth. So why flee from it?” — Robin Sharma.

A calling is the accumulation of a person’s life’s experiences, skills, and passions — all put to work. So, of course it’s going to be hard to articulate and name it, you are an individual of course! But who said you ever had to get this right the first time?

How about rather than articulating and then actionizing, reverse it: act, then define what you’re doing. We all want clarity before we’re willing to take action, but more often than not clarity comes with action.

2: Just because it’s not easy doesn’t mean you should quit

How about this, instead of following your passion, maybe you should let your passion follow you. We all tend to enjoy activities we’re good at and hate the things we’re not. Remember in school maybe you hated math’s and physical education but loved biology and of course you got and A for biology. Don’t wait for the passion, just take note and listen to bits and pieces you enjoy. Or the opposite, become so good at math’s and physical education that the enjoyment soon follows. And if it doesn’t, you can always pick something else.

You may like the idea of being a doctor, a lawyer or the image, but you haven’t done any work. There is no associated risk or cost to the idea/dream. You have to practice, not the vague I will “try” or “I’ll show up” but the kind of practice the demands hours of our total presence. It’s the kind of the activity that will utilize all your energy and thoughts but also ends up being the most fulfilling thing you could possibly do. Remember when you used to exhaust yourself playing football every evening or signing until you lost your voice… No, it isn’t always easy, but since when did your calling have to come easy?

3: Experiment

What you’re doing is stalling. When you stay stuck in that job you hate without making any movement towards change, when you keep thinking about doing something but never follow through on it. One quote I often think about is “people will change when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change”.

When I talk to elderly patients at work, they rarely talk about the nice cars they bought or their big house, they often talk about the experiences, the traveling, the job they loved or sometimes regret that they never tried their passion.

The rule: you just need to keep momentum. How about this, a compromise between having the dull but safe job and picking the wrong idea: Make a seasonal commitment, an evening and weekend based job. Choose any idea and try it out for a few months. Experiment!

Get to a point where you either know this is what you should do or should not. Then go further, or move on.

Originally published at www.krislintonreid.com.