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Last Updated on December 14, 2020

Where Am I Going? How to Put Your Life in Context

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Where Am I Going? How to Put Your Life in Context

Are you wondering…

Where am I going? Where am I supposed to be going?

And to answer your questions, here’s what the great writer and thinker, Christopher Morley famously wrote:

There are three ingredients to the good life – learning, earning and yearning.

An average lifespan in the developed world is 70-something years – as indicated on the bar below:

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    Each of the phases of that life has different characteristics. The Learning phase typically stretches from the age of five into the early twenties and its over-riding characteristic is freedom.

      Your thinking is unfettered, you are chock-full of dreams and aspirations and (happily) someone else is footing the bills. It’s not a cliché to say that schooldays, for many of us, really were the happiest days of our lives.

      Contrast it with adult life – no one expects very much of you, and other than passing a few exams along the way and you can just swing along, having a great old time …

      The next phase is the Earning years; the period from leaving formal education (at 20-something) to retirement (at 50-something or 60-something). Welcome to the grown-up world, welcome to the tax net:

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        The overriding concern in this Earning phase is security (I spell that word as follows: $ecurity because, for many people, this phase tends to be all about generating sufficient income to pay the monthly bills.)

        Reality bites. This can require sublimating the dreams of youth as a life of routine takes over. Few in the Earning years question the choices they have made because, typically, this questioning process can be quite disconcerting – oddly, I find this is particularly true of people who are less than happy with their working lives.

        Routine generation of wealth becomes paramount and you get swept along with the current. This is fine if you made sound choices in your late teens and early twenties with regard to your career. But if you didn’t … for routine, read ‘RUT’.

          Which brings us to Morley’s Yearning phase – from ceasing your full-time occupation until … well, ceasing.

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            What is yearning? Unfortunately, yearning is not the same as simple hankering, wanting or desire. The dictionary definition of yearning is:

            “A feeling of intense longing for something lost, absent or unattainable.”

            A bit gloomy. So for many people, the Yearning years are about looking back over a life not quite fulfilled and saying ‘I wish, I wish. If only … if only …’

              With the wisdom of years comes regret for the road not taken, the too-conservative choices made.

              Studies conducted in the geriatric population and on terminally ill people consistently demonstrate that regrets in human beings arise as a result of decisions not taken. The wise old owls that I have talked to over the years all speak with one voice on this.

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              It is better to look back and think, ‘I wish I hadn’t …’ rather than wistfully saying, ‘I wish I had …’

              Think about where you are on the chart above…

              • How far along are you in the Earning years? Just starting out or 20 years in an 20 years to go?
              • How many job or career changes have you been through already? How many of those have been voluntary and how many involuntary?
              • If you retired (or stepped under a bus) tomorrow, how would you look back over your working life? With indifference? Regret? Pride? Delight? Anger?

              As you think about your career, your life, and your plans for the future, you are, at the very least, going to have to contemplate some uncomfortable choices about yourself, your personal style and your level of happiness.

              I make no apologies for this – that’s just life. But I contend that it is better to take the time and spend the effort now to improve the choices that you make for later, rather than to have those choices made for you at a time that may not suit you.

              Some people get these choices unerringly right and they do so early in their lives. Others come to a realization of the right path much later in life. Ray Kroc changed his whole approach to his McDonald’s business in his early 50s.[1] Colonel Sanders didn’t start his KFC franchising efforts until he was in his early 60s.[2] And the list can go on.

              It’s never too early and it’s never too late – but you have to think about it.

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              Need more help to get out of the rut? Take a look at these articles:

              Featured photo credit: Johannes Plenio via unsplash.com

              Reference

              [1] Britannica: Ray Kroc
              [2] Biography: Colonel Sanders

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              Rowan Manahan

              Rowan is a professional trainer with over 20 years’ experience mentoring and consulting with executives at all levels.

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              Last Updated on November 30, 2021

              Confused About Life? Try These 4 Things to Find Clarity

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              Confused About Life? Try These 4 Things to Find Clarity

              Life is a mystery. We all know that. There are parts where the light at the end of the tunnel is clearly visible, but there are also parts where feel extremely confused about life.

              It’s pretty normal to go through these highs and lows. Everyone experiences them, yet only a few speak up about it. So, if you’ve been feeling lost in the maze of life recently, don’t worry, because you’re not alone.

              Luckily, since a lot of people have already gone through this before you, the key to unlocking this grave matter has been found!

              Why Have I Become So Confused About Life?

              Life is like an amusement part. Sometimes, you try a ride that will take you up to the sky. Other times, it brings you back to the ground. If you feel like life is a bumpy ride most days, you are probably questioning why you have become so confused about life.

              So what’s going on? Why do you feel this way?

              One of the major reasons why you may feel like this is because you don’t have time to enjoy your passions.

              If you’re passionate about your career, that’s amazing. However, it may not be an outlet where you can exercise your creativity. If you’re too busy with your job and other daily routines, you’ll eventually feel like you’re stuck in a rut.

              Aside from that, you may have also become detached from your purpose. It’s hard to see where you want yourself to end up in the future if you have a shallow idea of what your motivations are.

              Third, you may feel confused about life because you’re alone. Even though you’re always with people, there may be a lack of substantial and genuine support around you. Building vital connections with other people is a must.

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              Finally, you may be facing cognitive overload. This affects people of all ages. You may have so much stuff on your plate that you feel overloaded and feel out of control. Because of this, you need to find time to offload your current load.

              How to Overcome Confusion and Find Joy in Life

              You don’t have to be making any more bad decisions due to your confusion. Instead, try out 4 simple things to find clarity.

              These things will pull you out of the swamp of confusion and place you on clear, dry land.

              “Good. Be confused. Confusion is where inspiration comes from.” –– Robyn Mundell

              1. Don’t Panic

              When most people feel mental fog starts creeping in, they panic. While it’s human nature to get anxious about feeling like you’re not in control of your life, remember that this is just temporary.

              Do not run away from the situation. This temporary solution will only make your problem worse. Instead, reassure yourself that you can get through this. Try to think of a hard situation you have handled before and remember how you powered through it.

              It’s absolutely normal to feel like you’re making wrong decisions about your life, but when you fill your mind with negative thoughts, you will begin questioning your ability to overcome challenges. You may even become irrational and make wrong decisions.

              As much as you can, be conscious about the way you talk to yourself when you are feeling lost or when you make wrong decisions. By practicing positive self-talk despite your confusion, you can feel more control of your life.

              2. Discover Your Direction in a Confused Life

              The first of the three things you need to sort is your life’s direction.

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              We all are living this life with a deep purpose. There’s a reason why we’re here. Whether you believe in a religion or not, every scientific and religious belief tells us the same thing.

              No matter how small or big your life’s purpose is, everything you do in life is connected to it. So, if you can figure it out and follow the right path deliberately, your feelings of being confused about life will be diminished. You will know that every step you take is meaningful because it’s leading you to where you’re supposed to be.

              To be honest, finding the direction of your life isn’t the easiest thing. It is a long journey, to say the least. However, if one stays consistently motivated to get an answer, the answer will present itself.

              Your life’s direction isn’t written in a secret book, nor is it enclosed in a buried treasure box. It’s closer to you than anything else in this world. The answer that you need is right inside you. That is why it’s so hard to get it out. Since it’s always been inside you, you have to struggle with your own self to bring it out.

              But once again, the key is saved because millions before you have already experienced this journey. They succeeded, and so can you.

              How To Bring Your Life’s Meaning to the Surface

              To find the solution to your confusing life, all you have to do is interrogate yourself. Ask yourself the following questions, test your memory, listen to your intuition, and let clarity find its way to you.

              1. What Do You Enjoy the Most in Life?

              Currently, nothing is life might seem enjoyable, but look back. There are always certain things that your heart is in deeply. Make a list of the things that you have enjoyed the most in your life. It could be something as small as a 5-minute meditation session or a whole other state that you lived in.

              2. What Do You Hate to Do in Life?

              Just like some things come naturally to you, some you just naturally cannot enjoy, no matter how hard you try. You don’t necessarily have to be bad at these tasks, but you just don’t like doing them. These are definitely the things that are pulling you away from your life’s true direction.

              3. What Are Your Goals?

              Based on the things that you enjoy or don’t, you need to come up with some goals. You don’t know your life’s direction very clearly at this point. Hence, your goals don’t have to enforce a certain aim. Just think of the things you’d love to achieve in the longer run. Make a list of SMART goals with all of this knowledge in mind.

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              4. Is Your Current Lifestyle Allowing You to Reach Your Goals?

              Sit down with your list of goals. It’s time to contemplate. With an open mind, think about everything in your life that is helping you achieve your defined goals. Simultaneously, make a list of things that are pushing you away from them. You already know that whatever is diverging your path needs to be avoided.

              5. What Can You Control to Fulfill Your Dreams?

              Of the goals that you have, which ones can you achieve by changing parts of your life? Change things that are in your control if they help you reach your aims, dreams, and mental peace.

              For things that seem to be out of your control, just accept them[1]. This is a huge factor that causes confusion. Don’t struggle to change everything around you. Some things are out of your hands, and maybe it’s better that way.

              3. Figure out Your Ideal Career

              The next dilemma that makes your life confusing is regarding career choices. Of course, your well-being depends majorly on your source of income. Now, not only does everyone want a career that makes them wealthy, but they also want to enjoy it.

              People who are looking for a stable job, especially fresh graduates, are ones who experience this confusion in the worst possible way. However, some people who already have a well-paid job may also be unhappy with their career choice.

              Steps to Shortlist a Career Option

              There is a very simple, step-by-step process to help you figure out which career will be your ideal route. Keep in mind that more money doesn’t guarantee mental peace, and, similarly, a job that you enjoy may not pay as much as you want.

              1. List Your Skills and Qualifications

              Start with self-evaluation. There are two parts to this. The first is your qualifications, and the other is your skill set.

              Your qualifications are everything you’ve studied or learned. Include your educational background, majors, subjects, short courses, online seminars, and everything else that you’ve learned over the years.

              Next, you have your skills. Everything you’ve learned may not have translated into practicality. The things that you learned to do or know how to do from experimenting or experience all classify as your skills. Include every minute detail, even if it is something like making delicious pancakes.

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              The next step is to figure out which careers can use your skills[2]. So if you’re a great cook, you can teach it to other people, work in a restaurant, write a cookbook, etc.

              2. Take an Online Career Test

              It’s all right if you’re having a hard time putting 2 and 2 together. Matching your skills to a career may be hard for you. That is why there are so many online tests that help you put your finger on it.

              You can search online to get access to hundreds of quick tests that ask you a few questions. Based on your answers, they give you some options that you can consider. Look for the ones that jump out immediately, not necessarily the ones at the top of the list. If you feel good about one suggestion, follow that idea further.

              3. Look Through Job Options That Require Your Skills

              In today’s digital world, searching for jobs is way easier. You don’t have to go door-to-door and ask businesses what they require. Instead, look at the job descriptions that most businesses have posted on their websites. You should follow their social media, too.

              If you know of some online job portals, be sure to sign up. Look through the different job postings to figure out where your skills can come in handy. You are highly likely to find a suitable job in this way.

              4. Avoid Emotional Attachment If You’re Not Ready

              The last thing that may be causing confusion in your life is vagueness in terms of emotional commitments. Should you be romantically involved with someone? Is it time to get married? Should you stay single for a while?

              Some signs indicate your unpreparedness for a commitment. If you’re experiencing the opposite, you can go ahead and settle down with a person that you love.

              Here are some signs that you may not be ready for emotional commitment. If you identify with any of these, take some time to explore your own goals and direction before offering dedication to another human.

              • You can’t compromise, and things always have to be your way.
              • You can’t spend too much time with the same person because you get bored.
              • Sharing your personal space, time, and things is a big no for you.
              • Your shoulders are already burdened with one too many responsibilities related to career, family, education, etc.
              • Career-wise, you’re not where you want to be, and your attention and focus are on your career goals with no time for distractions.
              • You went through a bad breakup or heartbreak recently.

              Final Thoughts

              Life is complicated, and confusion is a natural result of that. Fortunately, moments of confusion, if worked through properly, often lead us to higher levels of clarity about our direction and purpose. Take the time to identify why you are confused about life and tackle them to get back on your desired path.

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              More Tips for Finding Clarity in Life

              Featured photo credit: Joshua Rawson-Harris via unsplash.com

              Reference

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