“What do You Want to Do with Your Life?”
That’s the question I’ve been asked most since I graduated from college. I have always found the question on my purpose of life to be quite paralyzing because it is so complex and important that I feel so much pressure to get the answer right. There are many factors to consider when deciding what to do with my life. What do I enjoy doing? What am I good at? What is important to me? How do I make the world a better place?
Purpose + passion = career
And for me these questions translate into finding a career that is meaningful to me. It’s about finding a career that combines my passion for the purpose and my passion for the process. That means that I must know that my work makes a positive difference in other people’s lives and that the majority of my daily work is enjoyable to me. The process constitutes 99 percent of the journey, and the purpose is what motivates me through the process. Only when I find both in my career, I can reach my fullest potential over the long haul.
Taking it step by step
Or rather over the longer haul. Because thinking about the purpose of my entire life seems too daunting. So maybe it is more productive to only plan for the next ten or five years, instead of thinking about what to do with the rest of my life. What do I enjoy doing now? What are my skills now? And what is important to me now? How can I help improve the world now? What are realistic goals to achieve within ten or five years from now?
And once I have worked towards and achieved those goals, I’ll be more skilled and knowledgeable to set new goals that are higher than the ones before. And it’s not to say that we shouldn’t be ambitious from the get-go; we should, but we also must be realistic. Because if our goals are too unrealistic, we might not be able to achieve them with our current skill set, which could discourage us to continue trying. It’s about taking small steps that amount to bigger steps. And next thing you know, you’ve walked a long-distance path.
Being okay with changes
And maybe some of my goals change before I achieve them, but that’s okay, too. Because the ultimate goal is to live a life I am proud of. That means to create a life in which I constantly use and develop my talents for the things that are important to me. And if priorities change, then so will the goals and the plans to achieve them. So maybe the question shouldn’t be “What do you want to do with your life?” but “What do you want to do?” And it shouldn’t only be asked in one’s twenties but maybe throughout one’s life. Because the answer is likely to be different every few years or even every time the question is asked. For it is really about the journey because that’s 99 percent of reaching the destination.