The question had to stop and I needed to get moving in spite of it.
This was what I finally realized one morning in my upper twenties, under the warm covers, not wanting to get up to go to work (but knowing I will anyway).
I’ve been asking myself this question most insistently since I got into college, when the proverbial path ends and becomes yours to determine. It’s an inkling that just hasn’t gone away. I don’t have the answer currently, nor do I foresee myself having one in the near future.
I asked this of myself after a couple years of working full-time post college. I asked the question again after my wedding, I asked the question yet again after we bought a house and at the start of the next year.
What’s next for living the life I want to live, instead of following the status quo? What’s next for what I want instead of just what someone else wants me to do? What’s next for a new adventure? What’s next for getting ourselves closer to the free life, figuratively and financially? What’s next for the impact I want to make?
These are questions that I want to answer, and even with much concerted effort to control the outcome – the countless hours of soul-searching activities, online assessments, surveys, books, coaches and so called experts – I have not been able to find it.
With so many options that didn’t interest or stick with me, I felt frustrated and confused. The realization eventually came that I need to be okay with not having an answer for now and start trying new things without any expectation of short-term gains or results. Whatever and whenever, things happen for a reason and in its own time.
Being okay with not knowing is scary at first and almost necessary for progress to be made. The key is to continually take action, experiment, and have some fun with it. It’s all too easy to complain about your situation and stay stagnant in the midst of too many options and indecision.
Embracing the ambiguity, taking the time for the reflection and exploration allows you to let go of those preconceived notions, generally consisting of existing molds you may settle for in your haste to find an answer. Switching to another company, taking another mediocre job, going back to graduate school… these are common options that are often disguised like the next step you think you want.
It’s worth taking some time to confront the fear of not knowing in order to more clearly see through the options before you invest the hours, effort and thousands of dollars. During times of impatience, I ask myself, “Do you want to move very fast in the wrong direction, or very slowly in the right direction?”
If you must err though, definitely err on the side of taking action. There are few mistakes that you can’t learn from, and much more is gained than lost when you introduce new experiences into your life vs just waiting.