Had to re-post an article by Jacob Sokol wrote on The Daily Love yesterday. Being that I am 28 (almost 29, yikes) I am definitely at that point in life of really trying to figure out, What do I want to do? What is my purpose? and I felt like this article was a great motivator.
I know many friends, and im sure some of you, that are in this same boat. The most scary thing about trying to figure these answers out, especially at this age, is not knowing what lies ahead of you and being unable to see how you will “safely” get there.
Well the key word is “safe”. Something to ask yourself is, what has “safe” done for you so far? Most likely safe has gotten you to the place where you are now… anxious and uncertain.
Check out what Jacob has to say about this Paradox of Uncertainty (via The Daily Love).
Technically the options are endless but it feels like there’s nowhere to start. How do you know what’s realistic and what’s a straight-up pipe-dream? You wanna make an impact, you wanna stack cake, and you wanna be emotionally rewarded. But what exactly do you need to do, and how exactly do you get started?
I know I’m not the only one who’s been paralyzed by this predicament. It can feel emotionally, mentally and spiritually exhausting – like we’re tirelessly treading water, waiting for the right job, mentor, or situation to suddenly appear. SPLASH!
As a generation, there’s this invisible yet immense weight on us to identify e-x-a-c-t-l-y what we wanna do with our lives and then spell it out in a 5-point-plan for achieving our 10-year-goals.
The seed for this mysterious pressure was planted way back when we ate spaghetti with our hands and wiped our faces with our shirts. The authority figz (mom, dad, and teach) asked us what we wanted to be when we grow up: A doctor, a lawyer, or a teacher perhaps? If you were me, you said a garbage truck, and were serious.
Picture it… we had the knowledge base of 7-year-old’s. We barely knew our alphabet and we probably couldn’t control our farts yet. You think we’re capable of accurately analyzing the emotional, social, and financial sacrifices required to pass our GREs or get into med-school? Compound that contorted notion with the reality that most professions which existed thirty years ago are now becoming obsolete endangered species (a shout out to the evolution of technology and the globalization of the economy).
Asking us the seemingly innocent question, “What do YOU wanna be when you grow up?” implies that we SHOULD know what we wanna do (or “be”). If you’re lucky you’ll hear, “You’ve got PLENTY of time to figure it out,” subconsciously continuing to stress the imperative significance of this passive-aggressive suggestion.
So is it really any surprise that by the time we reach our mid-20s we’re already going through a quarter life-crisis? Pop-culture paints the 20′s as the most glamorous years of our life, which just makes it even MORE frustrating for us, since we feel like “Why-the-f don’t I have ‘IT’ figured out already? What’s wrong with me?!”
And since we feel like picking the perfect path in our 20s will dictate our 30s, 40s, 50s – our entire life (!!!) – it’s no wonder why we’re paralyzed by possibilities.
It’s a poetic paradox: On one hand, we have ALL the possibilities in the world. And on the other hand, all those possibilities leave us feeling anxious and uncertain.
A few hours ago, I got off the phone with a girl who I coach. She was uneasy, bothered by the plethora of potentialities for her future and (of course) didn’t quite understand which was the *perfect* path to pick. Baffled, she asked me for some guidance.
The Existential Rat Race
Taking a deep breath, I momentarily reflected three years back on my own path. At the time, I was 24-years-old and having an allergic reaction to my life.
You see, I used to work for an awesome IT company as a computer network consultant in Times Square NYC. I made a nice living enjoying all the cliché token things a “successful” 24-year-old would want: A sweet apartment, a fun car, a fast motorcycle, a fashionable wardrobe, and fancy dinners with friends.
So WHAT was missing?
Enthusiasm! Behind the scenes, I led a life of quiet desperation and all the new techy toys in the world wouldn’t prevent me from waking up and feeling like, “Damn, I gotta go through THIS routine again today!?”
Questions like, “Who am I?” and “What’s my purpose?” marinated heavily in my mind. It was an existential rat race.
Fast forward to today, three years later, and my hero’s journey has had some remarkable turns. I’m living my purpose, doing *EXACTLY* what I wanna do, and, I’m getting paid to do it!
But if you would have sat down with the 24-year-old Jacob and asked him to imagine doing what the 27-year-old Jacob is currently doing, it’d be unfathomable.
Why? Because it was nearly unimaginable and COMPLETELY unrealistic. I hadn’t “leveled-up” my sense of reality yet. In other words, my sense of what was REALLY possible with life hadn’t been proven to myself BY myself.
Sure, I read lots of inspiring books and watched loads of (illegally downloaded) personal growth seminars on how to become a better person (I love you, Irony). BUT, it was inspirational entertainment. 90% of the time I was *watching* and 10% of the time I was *doing*.
You see, I hadn’t actually taken that stuff which was so fascinating and implemented it into my life – day after day – thus, not yet believing – rather, not yet KNOWING – it could be my reality!
There were a sequence of subsequent realities I had to get to, one by one, month after month, in order to be where I am today. I needed to defy the odds, one step at a time, before I could imagine the incredible possibilities for my future. (So do you.)
Well, where am I currently? The short answer: Coaching peeps on how to find their purpose and increase their quality of life.
But how did I get there when two years ago I didn’t even know what a life coach was? I fully immersed myself IN myself. I invested in myself, spending 1000′s of hours consciously doing the work I needed to in order to figure out how I could enjoy an optimal life with a deep sense of purpose. I threw my life over the fence of my fears, into the yard of my dreams, and then had the sensible response of “now I need to go get that!”
I had doubts, fears, panic attacks, and suicide contemplations. (Yes, all in the last three years.) I faced gossip, criticism, ridicule, and opposition. My family told me I was an idiot and old-skool friends subtlety evaporated.
Was it easy? Hell no. Was it worth it? Hell yes!
Last Sunday I interviewed the man who taught the most popular class at Harvard of all time. Our conversation was about happiness. And for the last 10 months, I’ve been having similar conversations with other world-class thinkers as I create A Roadmap for Young Adults to navigate the current challenges we face today.
What’s ‘A Roadmap for Young Adults’ you ask? Well, I know you’ve heard of Mastin’s The Daily Love EXTRAVANGANZA (which was produced by en*theos). Well, I’ve been working with en*theos since February 2012 to create my own extravaganza addressing the current cultural challenges of being a Young Adult in today’s world.
The relationships which have sprouted from the conversations for this event have been soul-boggling! I’m interviewing my heroes!
I’ve also been Mastin’s Teacher Assistant on 4 out of the 5 classes he’s taught this year. I’ve got some incredible mentors and a flourishing coaching business that helps other peeps create extraordinary lives, too. The list goes on.
Three years ago, there was NO possible way you could have convinced me that this would be my reality. I didn’t even know who these people were. I didn’t even know what a blog was. A life WHAT- coach?!
Before any of this could be my reality, I needed to step into uncertainty, trust my gut, invest in myself, and allow myself to follow myself. I needed to figure out how to live on purpose. And I have.
The Paradox of Uncertainty
“Most people will choose unhappiness over uncertainty.” -Tim Ferriss
My advice to my client was straight forward: don’t worry about figuring it all out right now. But INVEST in YOURSELF. Do the work, the deep DEEP work of figuring out who you currently are and who you aspire to be in the future. Ask yourself the quality questions!
What would you do if you had unlimited time and money? What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail and everyone thought it was awesome? What qualities do you admire in others and how you can cultivate them in yourself?
And with a diligent work-ethic, and a L O O O O O O N G-term perspective in mind, focus on two main things.
- Service. How can you create massive goals of serving people (and trusting in the karmic process of reciprocity without the need for immediately getting gratifying results)?
- Your values. How can you *enjoy the process* of serving people – doing things that are in alignment with your values while cultivating and using your strengths to rock it?!
Success works in counter-intuitive ways.
The more we can serve others, the more we’ll be served. When we move toward our fears, they lose power over us. When we become vulnerable, we get stronger. And when we step into uncertainty, infinite possibilities present themselves!
For many of us, NOT attempting to predict our futures may be the better option. We can’t turn a corner until we arrive at it. And if we’ve never been down a road, it’s impossible to know what lies around its corner (sorry Google-maps, you don’t work here).
What we CAN do is find certainty in ourselves.
We can find certainty in knowing that when we rock our fundamental practices daily – our exercise, nutrition, meditation, gratitude, social relationships, creativity – we’ll be stepping into our higher-self.
We can find certainty in studying and cultivating our knowledge of self – our passions, strengths, ambitions, values, fears, triggers, purpose, and definition of success.
We can find certainty in dispelling our limiting beliefs by taking action in the face of fear.
We can find certainty in knowing there is a Uni-versal path – and when we show up PATIENTLY, PERSISTENTLY, PLAYFULLY, and DILIGENTLY, we are *bound* to be successful!
Don’t limit yourself to the perceived possibilities that currently exist in your life. Allow yourself the leeway to virtuously step into uncertainty so you can do what matters most to you, TRUSTING, that in the long run – “in the long run I say” – the best place you can play is in the paradox of uncertainty.