You’re in the middle of your journey. Whatever that may be, a career, school, parenthood, travel, business, a new goal, a new relationship. You’re amid dozens of journeys, it seems, yet you’re unsure about something. You’ve hit a dead-end; you’re in a pit of uncertainty, hell you don’t even think that this is the thing. The big thing. The thing you want.
A lot of the time, you feel like you’re just floating, trying to make sense of it all. It seems that you haven’t even begun your journey.
“I don’t know what I want to do.”
“I don’t know what I want for a career.”
“I don’t know if I want this person.”
“I don’t know what I want.” Period.
When you have an endless sea of decisions, a few things happen. You feel anxious, directionless, and feel an overwhelming sense of agitation and restlessness. Why? Because you know there is so much to do, so many possibilities, yet you do nothing or very little. But why?
Let’s be clear on this logic.
You try to optimize a decision so profoundly,
You try to think about every possible outcome,
You spend weeks, months, years thinking about the right choice,
Only to not make a decision and postpone your journey that little bit longer,
Because heavens forbid, it turns out to be the wrong decision.
You’ve heard time and time again that it’s ok to fail, yet you don’t seem to put it into action. It’s because you don’t know what you want, right?
Wrong, it’s because you want a lot of things, and you don’t like choosing.
Time spent doing one thing is taking away from potential time doing another thing that you might like better, right? You just want the best for you. I get it. We only have one life; we want to optimize this life, but let me rip off that band-aid. This is flawed logic and will only make you miserable after 5, 10, 20 years of waiting or deciding.
If you’re not busy doing, you’ll never figure it out.
Don’t treat your life like a formula you have to spend ten years writing, only to have maybe the next finite amount of time slightly better off.
This is misguided. Life is meant to be an experience. Not something to be optimized by thinking 24/7 while on autopilot for the next ten years. You’ll figure out what you want by trying different things, by simple problem solving, by the process of elimination — not a formula.
The best thing about this is that you’ll look back on those decisions you actually made and realize that they were what made the adventure possible; they made you feel fulfilled, overjoyed, maybe uncomfortable, or even sad at times… but that’s what a journey is meant to be.
But I realize it’s hard to start. It’s hard to change the routine, and it’s hard to break free. No amount of motivation will help unless there’s something practical to do. So here is a place to start.
If you were paying attention, you might have realized that all the self-doubt and uncertainty I speak of can be traced back to some subtle ways of thinking about things. One of which consists of self-talk that starts something like “I don’t know..” This, I’ve found, is a horrible focal point, one that I like to overwrite when I can. Here’s how.
Get out a pen and paper, start a new document, begin writing.
What I know for certain.
Don’t focus on what you don’t know. Focus on what you do know.
This doesn’t mean not to learn new things; this doesn’t mean to stick to the known, not taking any risk. This means focus on what you know for sure about your goals, aspirations, and interests.
What I know for certain.
I know for certain that I want to travel to many different countries.
I know for certain that I want to start a business.
I know for certain that I don’t see a future with my partner.
I know for certain x, y or z
It could be anything. And it more often than not will be broad.
This may seem simple, but you’ve, in effect, cut out all the self-made barriers to your decision and simplified it. You’ve turned questions like, “I don’t know which country to go to,” “I don’t know how long I should stay there,” “I don’t know when to go or who to go with,” etc. to a certainty. You’ve taken them and made them known, not by answering the question but by changing the context.
I know for certain that I want to travel.
Everything else is almost negligible now. It doesn’t matter if you go to Germany or Spain. You will be following that direction that you’ve outlined for yourself. And like we mentioned before, this is all about trying things and not analyzing yourself into inaction. The key is to ask yourself if the action you’re taking is aligned with what you know for certain.
This works for everything.
Going ahead and starting a business, regardless of whether you fail or not, will still put you on the right path as long as starting a business is something you know you want to do. You’ll realize really quickly if it’s the right type of business; leave that realization for later. Because by then you will know for certain whether or not it’s right for you. If you don’t start, you never will.
Focus on what you know for certain, and you’ll be inadvertently writing a story on how you eventually figured out what you wanted. An amazing story to tell at that, twists and turns, great times and times of trial. One dragon short of a real-world fantasy.
Thanks for making it to the end :)