What the Heck Am I Supposed to Do in Life? The 3-Step Method That’s Not Really ‘3 Easy Steps’
The older I get, the more I realize that a lot of the “self-help” and career advice I heard as a younger adult was crap.
“Follow your dreams and you’ll never work a day in your life.”
Let me know when you find a boss or client that will pay you for a “dream.” Unless that “dream” come with a product or service, you ain’t getting paid.
“Find your one thing and stick to it to be successful.”
”What if your ‘one thing’ gets automated or outdated.What if you’re good at more than one thing (which we all are)? What if you don’t even know what your ‘one thing’ is?”
It’s not that the above statements are completely wrong….but they are misleading.
They are misleading because they assume that humans know what they want out of life and the world will respond accordingly.
News Flash: Most of us don’t know what we want to do in life and just in case you do…it doesn’t mean the world will respond (American Idol, anyone?)
So, how are we supposed to know what ‘one thing is’?
The answer is ….We don’t.
We are humans BEING.
The whole idea behind a career is that it’s a fixed path from where you are now to where you want to be.
Now, answer me this….At what point does anything in life go a fixed path?
Why should your career?
Now, if you’re one of those lucky ones who knows exactly what you want to do. Hooray!
If you’re like me and it’s taking a minute to figure out what you want to be, then stop….
Stop trying to fit in
Stop wishing you had it all figured out.
Stop trying to Google your way to a new wear.
Now, I’m not one of those “just quit your job and do what you love types”. If you need to go a job tomorrow (a job that you might hate) or you need to look for a job, I would like to suggest a different approach to figuring out your life.
I suggest the “Question-Test-Reflect” Method.
What do I mean by this?
Question: Instead of trying to “guess” what you do next…begin with 3 questions…
What is my gift? To me, a “gift” is something everyone has. It’s that thing or things you do that others can’t do as well or don’t won’t do as well. It could be anything from eating, making food, solving puzzles, learning computer concepts, talking, persuasion. To get your brain thinking….If your friends, family, teachers, etc had to call you right now to fix a problem, what would it be?
What is my talent? To me, “talent” is your gift manifesting into the real world. It’s the “gift” in the real world. The trick is turn this “talent” into ways that add value to someone else…and money to you (if you want it to). If your friends know you for food…can you turn this into a career? Brainstorm some ways that you can turn your gifts into something people will pay for.
What is my “dream”? People say that a job can be their “dream”, but what does that really mean? To me, a “dream” is an experience that you want to have. It includes more than a job. It includes money, relationships…everything. So ask yourself,” If I had the job I always wanted to, what should the rest of my life look like?
Once you have some idea of your gift, potential (talent or talents) that you can offer, and the life you want…it’s time to start testing.
Whatever it is, get your “gift” out in the real world, so it can grow into “talent” and lead you to your dream.
Find some ways you can test out your ideas.
Find ways you can test our talent now…in small ways. If you have a talent for singing, start a YouTube channel. Shy? Sing into a voice memo on your phone. Want to be a writer? Start a blog or Medium page. Want to turn a talent of food into something? Try food photography, vlogging, cooking, creating a recipe, blogging, or as a food demonstrator.
Notice that I’m not saying “do an informational interview” or “Keep Googling ideas” or “Quit your job now”. These are often ideas thrown out by people who already a career. It’s my belief that everyone has the ability to grow their into gifts into talent into multiple ways.
Get feedback. You’re going to need feedback in order to see if the steps you are taking towards a better life are right for you. You need two types of feedback, external and internal. You can get external feedback from a lot of sources: Post your book/blog/video/music/whatever online, cook for a friend, send an article you wrote to a friend, enter a talent competition.
At the same time, you also need internal feedback. You need to see how you feel. I’m not talking about the external feedback. I’m talking about how YOU feel while testing our talent. While you’re singing, do you like it? While writing, do you like the process? Did you enjoy creating that food? External feedback is important but internal feedback is even better to help you find your path.
Lastly, you want to reflect.
As you begin to take small steps to figure out how to turn your gifts into talent, keep dreaming.
Keep imagining the life you want.
Let those dreams inform what you test. For example, if you always wanted to be a singer, figure out what type of singer you’d like to be. Can you imagine singing in front of a crowd, singing in a choir, singing on YouTube, or just writing music for others?
Ask yourself how you feel as you test out these different avenue. Get feedback from people who know you (and people you don’t).
As you get more feedback, see where that takes you.
You might realize that you are destined to be a singer.
You might also realize that you are not so into being a singer as you thought.
But you won’t know until you try.
Remember we are humans BEING, not humans DONE.
No matter what, it’s all a part in the process- the good and the wrong turns.
Dreams don’t become a reality in your head. They become a reality when they come out.