Crying is all right in its way while it lasts.
But you have to stop sooner or later,
and then you still have to decide what to do.
— C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair
What happens when you don’t know what to do with your life?
It’s not malaise — there’s no physical discomfort. You’re just uneasy in your own skin, in your own world, in what you believe you should be doing.
It’s not angst — there’s no anxiety about the world and your personal options. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. You have complete freedom and that’s what seems to be causing the challenges.
You don’t know how to spend all your freedom and all your options and all your opportunities in the best way possible.
Is it melancholy? Not really. There’s no “thoughtful sadness” present.
You’re not depressed. You’re not unhappy. You haven’t even gotten to that place that the Meredith Grey character on the TV show Grey’s Anatomy calls her “dark and twisty place.”
But life just isn’t as exciting anymore. Perhaps it never was.
Perhaps, you just don’t know you’re going through this at all. Or in the first place.
This way of feeling and being and experiencing is kind of like the passage from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland — you know the one:
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where –” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“– so long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”
Let’s get to the bottom of all this right here and right now and cut through all the hocus-pocus. When someone tells me that they don’t know what to do with their life or that they can’t decide which path is the right one for them and so they remain stuck in place, what they’re really saying to me is: “I don’t want to make the decision in the first place.”
You’re saying you don’t know because you don’t want to know.
“But, I really don’t know what I want,” you say.
Everyone goes through some level of indecision at some point in their lives. The difference is that consistently successful magicians, when faced with hesitation or uncertainty or doubt, find the underlying cause of their lack of a firm path forward. And, once fathomed out, they utterly destroy the head game that was plaguing them.
Here’s a little secret for you: Most of the time, this experience you’re having is one of lack of “doing” not a lack of “knowing.”
It was George Bernard Shaw who said: “Doing what needs to be done may not make you happy, but it will make you great.”
If you are one of the people I described, above, I suggest — just for a moment — that you stop struggling with the question: “What do I want to do with the rest of my life?” In its place, start embracing and answering and acting upon the question: “How do I want to spend my life today?”
The person who doesn’t know what they want to do with their life is really just saying, “I don’t want to make a mistake” or “I don’t want to disappoint” or “I don’t want disturb.” If that goes on too long, then you cease living the life you were born to experience and decisions will be made for you by others who do know what they want.
So, let’s change things up a bit for you. Pretend for a moment that you can’t make a mistake and you can’t disappoint anyone and you can’t disturb the status quo. Now, how would you spend your life today?
To put it another way: If you had the power to control your dreams and could dream anything at all tonight, and you could experience every pleasure, every outcome, every delight, what would you dream about while you were sleeping? Now, how can you take those dreams and turn them into deeds in the waking world today?
You may like to tell me and others that you don’t know what you want to do with your life. You may have even been saying this for so long that you’ve begun to believe it yourself. But your instincts, if you will just listen to them, know full well that’s not true. And . . . those same gut feelings will lead you unerringly to the deeds that you have to do today.
All you have to do is listen to yourself.
And you can easily prove this all. Pull out a piece of paper and something to write with. Now give yourself 10 minutes and, in that time, write down three action items that will change your world TODAY! You’re not to be concerned with year-end, or next month, or next week, or even tomorrow.
When you’ve reached the end of your 10-minute session, look at what you’ve written down. Notice if there’s a pattern. Notice if your deeds take you towards pleasure or if they run you away from pain. If your deeds are not quite right, go ahead and revise and fine-tune them.
Now, act upon those three deeds TODAY.
When you’re done with them, ask yourself: What’s different now? I’m willing to bet you’re going to discover and remember the joy of being alive and having accomplished something wonderful — getting to know yourself all over again.
I would love to continue the conversation with you by you subscribing at http://thinkingmagically.com or you joining me on any of the major social media sites to take this discussion to an even deeper level.