Friday, May 16, 2014

How to Get Direction in Your Life

“You must not only aim right, but draw the bow with all your might.”

~Henry David Thoreau

Sometimes we get stuck in two minds about where we wanna go with our lives. I have great difficulty with this. I seem to be inspired by "the next big thing" every other day. And I'll get obsessed about a new topic for days or weeks on end before finally going "eh...it's not for me". The key for me is that it really has to feel like the perfect fit before I "go all in". 

And taking the time to find this right fit is perfectly fine. Generally, it's taken me a lot longer than most other people to get going with life. But only because I can't put all of my energy into something which doesn't feel right. It's hard to live with that empty feeling when faking your way through something. 

When I was studying to be an engineer, the whole process didn't feel right. School counselors, family etc were saying things like "This is perfect for you, your future will be very bright once you have your degree, don't be faffing about in two minds, just knuckle down and get going". When I left college with my fancy new degree, the economy went down the toilet with the financial crises, so, so much for listening to those older and wiser than you. But if the crises never happened, and I had "gotten on the tracks" with engineering and been stuck on that path, I know that I wouldn't have been happy . From day one, the whole thing gave me a bad feeling, which I failed to recognise at the time. 

The point is that I learned to think for myself. Think about where YOU want to go in YOUR life. Not where somebody else thinks you should go. Try many different things. Say to yourself "What would I like to spend my days doing for the rest of my life?" My method is that if it doesn't feel right, I let it go and look for something else. When that something else comes along that is a perfect fit, it will take off by itself. You will get boundless energy and enthusiasm for it. 


If I start feeling slightly off, and a bit weird, when I get an lonely sort of feeling, I let the idea go and clear my mind. Basically your feeling about things is your internal guidance system. You've heard of successful people in business etc who "follow their gut feeling" and it serves them well. When I pick up a new interest, I follow it for a while. If it feels good, I stick with it. If it feels wrong, I drop it. Same with habits, hobbies, people etc all the way down to each and every thought you create. If a thought that I'm obsessing on feels bad, I drop it. I would rather be obsessed with a thought that feels good. 


With regards to the quote above, if you "draw the bow with all your might" but you aim in the wrong direction, you can end up with an obsession for years which might only give you pain and grief. I did this for many, many years with music. I thought "Music is my thing. It is the thing that I know best. I would rather be a starving musician who enjoys his passion everyday than be a money hungry professional who hates his job. When I make it in music, THEN I'll be happy." So I ran hard in that direction. I was never more miserable. The starving musician idea was a step up from the career driven professional idea but it still wasn't IT (for me). 


The point is that you've got to keep trying new things, keep getting up from failures, and eventually you will find a good fit. The best fit to me is when both my soul and ego are satisfied. The starving artist idea appealed to me because my soul felt better but my ego was not in good shape (havin no money ever will do this). It still wasn't IT. The guy with a couple houses, yachts and loads of money will have his ego well satisfied but his soul might be in terrible shape. They always talk about that empty feeling.  There is a middle way to find between the soul and the ego. Try to respect both. Keep searching until you find that groove. 

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