So I’ve been thinking a lot about this question of what I should do with my life.
It seems like an obvious question to ponder, but I never seriously considered it until I quit my job. I know this because after quitting my job, I had the freedom to pursue a lot of my desires (at least for a little while) and found that everything I pursued did not satisfy me. Not even a little bit.
I thought about it for some time and realized most of my desires were the desires of other people. I had become infected with their dreams and over the years never really stopped to reflect what I wanted.
What are the odds I really wanted to become a physicist like so many others? Or a social worker? Or a wealthy man? These were all lies I told myself because I didn’t know what to do.
Everything I pursued was because I saw someone else do it.
But when I stopped to reflect what I wanted to do, I found nothing. No voice, no inner calling. I was blank.
I spent months and months trying to figure an answer and stumbled upon Robert Greene’s “Mastery” which would’ve been better titled “Man’s Search For Meaning”.
I had hints of how I should conduct myself, of what I should do to find some sense of purpose, but nobody ever set the framework down quite like Robert Greene did.
Don’t be fooled by the title.
Your life’s mission is to find your life mission. And once found, pursued ever persistently with narrower and narrower lines of work to capture that primal inclination deep within you.
You can imagine in a sense every human on the planet is born uniquely suited for capturing or expressing some pattern. You’ll feel it as a kind of need. It’ll direct your life towards particular interests, especially in childhood. But early on you’ll lack the skills to express it properly, in a way that’s deeply engaging to you.
With discipline and practice, you can bolster that inclination — you can learn to engage deeply with it through the skills you’ve acquired. And in doing so, you’ll cultivate a sense of meaning — you’ll be right on the edge of what you’re capable of doing.
That’s where a human likes to reside. On the edge of what they know.
But it takes discipline. And it takes time.
Humans are mimetic creatures. We forget about ourselves so easily. You have to be aggressively persistent about the things you love, lest you forget about yourself somewhere down the line. There lies the path of suffering.
But if you’re persistent, if you’re serious about your search, you’ll find the work that truly interests you. In the process, you’ll transform yourself. You’ll grow competent in those areas of life you find uniquely fascinating.
And as you grow, you’ll begin to cultivate a series of skills no other human has in equal measure. Because they’re based off what you like — nobody else on the planet can compete with you there. You’ll stand outside all hierarchies.
But the journey is long. It’s tedious and sometimes painful. It takes discipline to do the work that’ll resonate with your deepest interests. Even Einstein got bored sometimes.
But if you don’t do this, if you don’t take the time to figure out what you enjoy, if you stagnate, you will stain your life with a bitter melancholy. You will spend the rest of your days in idle torment and lament over what could’ve been.
You must avoid this at all costs.
Move towards your highest calling. Move towards the pain.
You’ll find peace waiting on the other side.