What to do when you just can’t figure out the big questions in your life
At some point in our lives, we all face important and daunting questions:
- What career should I choose?
- Should I change careers? I’m bored and I think I’d like field xyz….
- Should I move to this exciting new city I’ve been dreaming about forever?
- I have this great business idea. Should I go for it?
- How can create passive income and not get stuck in the daily grind?
- What am I going to do when I’m retired? I can’t sit around all day.
- What is my greater purpose in life?
… and so on.
These are tough questions and many of us don’t have all the answers. A number of authors and “experts” have put forth a multitude of ways to “find your way and purpose”. After some brainstorming, mind maps, and soul searching, you’re supposed to head off to the newly found true north of your life. If you put all your efforts into it and put the right energy out into the universe, things will happen for you and you will – step by step – make it to your goal, … eventually. Happy ending – story closed.
But if you’re like me, this may not work for you. There are too many options, too many unknowns to even pick your destination. If you’ve never been there, never lived through what you’re hoping to experience, how do you even know it’s right for you? How do I know if I’ll like sailing around the world in a yacht visiting tropical locations with money to spend if I currently barely have enough in the bank to spend a long weekend at the local beach? Should I just have faith and hope that – with the right amount of effort, focus, and tenacity – things will fall into place and the universe will help get me there?
At one point I was told I had “too many irons” in the fire and that I should rather focus on “the one thing”. That advice rubbed me the wrong way, but I couldn’t put my finger on it at the time. I think I know why now…. Continue reading “Life by Experiment”
I’m mixing it up, starting Monday. After several weeks of careful consideration, I’ve decided take on a new role in my current organization, but in a different department/business unit, with different organizational scope, different subject matter and responsibilities. I’ll be building out a new function and I’ll be the first guy on the ground. The function itself is new and only time will tell if it’ll “stick”. I’ll be traveling more. And instead of spending most of my time with people on site, face-to-face and only some time on the phone, it’ll be the opposite. Not everyone “here” will understand or like my move. The word “risk” definitively crossed my mind. But then my more rational side took over. I’ve been in the same department for 7 years although with increasing responsibilities and titles in an ever-changing and dynamic organization. Still, it’s in essence my comfort zone. How much do we, as professionals, really grow if we don’t expose ourselves to new stuff, challenge ourselves with new things that are beyond our comfort zone? Sure, I could “stick around” and still learn and grow, to some extend. But when I look back at it 2 years from now, what will I really have to show for the extra time spent? What will people reading my resume think? Are things getting a little stale and I’m just not that aware of it? When it comes down to it, the comfort zone is seductively smooth and “easy”. Maybe it’s a false sense of security it creates. When I speak to and read about other successful leaders, I usually see more “movement” in the course of their careers, not slow, linear progression.
As described in the book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
, we all build certain routines and habits. Once established and refined, our brain is able to follow these routines with little incremental effort. Been there – done that. Run a certain meeting – check. Present to certain group of people – check. Solve an issue in a given area – check. We’re able to maneuver the day by flowing from one established habit to another without pushing our brain much.
That’s what I’m mixing up: I’m forcing myself to do new things, learn new skills, build new relationships, challenge myself and make my brain hurt again. I know it’ll be rough at first, but that’s the price one has to pay for stretching oneself beyond the comfort zone. I’m sure there’ll be days, where I’ll regret this. But then – I’m hoping – in the long-run it’ll help me grow and expand as an individual and professional. And according to this great article (If You Do These 20 Things Every Day, You’ll Become Smarter
), I’ll even end up being smarter because of it… 🙂
Just the other day, I saw this image and the words resonated with me: