Finding Purpose

Last month, I had a real epiphany. I’m someone who likes a pretty good balance between planned and spontaneous priorities. When I was looking at my goal list and started to sit down to plan out my April schedule, I noticed how many previous long-term goals were checked off. And then, how few remained…

Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Having a handful of goals is great and keeps you focused. I just realized that those big goals: finding a solid career trajectory, sustaining hobbies, and new subjects to learn about — those were “set” for the time being.

I had grabbed a piece of paper and wrote down everything I like doing — both at work and during my free time. Then I highlighted those projects I found myself doing the most. Finally, I circled the hobbies I’d like to eventually monetize and some initial outlines of what it would take to get there.

That process has been the most beneficial to me when it comes to “figuring out” what I want to do with my life. If you haven’t had that kind of mental pause, it is both exhilarating and terrifying. One day, you wake up realizing the weight that comes with the freedom of choice. You truly control the level of day-to-day monotony.

You are responsible for the schedule of your day — how you maintain relationships, your health, and when “some day” becomes today.

During the years of schooling, your life is so regimented. Whether you were in a private school like myself or a public school — there was a designated time for learning, exercise, creativity, eating, etc. Even in college/university — you had some control over the order, but there was still a routine. Then you graduate and everything’s back on you.

Up until the age of 17, I defined my success by goals I needed to achieve in 5/10/20 years. Because that was something I did in school. Once I ended up in the ICU for Thanksgiving break, I just couldn’t look at things the same way. I was craving those simplicities in life — snow I hated and the green peas I hated even more.

When had “now” been treated as if it was already my past?

So here I am again, just a few months away from entering my 30s. While some still like the phrase “midlife crisis”, I actually see it as a “healthy check-in”. Have I accomplished what I wanted almost a decade into my adult life? If yes, why? If not…why?

I had a conversation with an old college classmate a few weeks ago. We found ourselves sitting down in amazement over the fact that saving for down payments and/or new furniture purchases are causes of excitement these days. When had completing homework and going to a concert moved further down the list?

But that’s just a part of growing up and making it on your own. There’s just something about seeing the results of your hard work. Being able to say “I own this” or “I proved them wrong”.

I’ve always found the idea of aging exciting because it’s that permanent goal I can only hope to achieve. Anything else that hasn’t been done just isn’t as worrisome in the bigger picture. I’m welcoming my 30s with open arms and a large smile.

Because no matter what I do (or do not) take part in during the rest of my life, today is a check mark I didn’t know I would have.