How I learned what I want to do with my life

I think one of the hardest things about life is figuring out what we want to do with it, what we want to make of it and how to get there. I believe the question that crosses everyone’s mind at one point or another is: “what do I want to do with my life?” I’m 26 years old and I still find myself tipping back and forth between my options.

And I think that’s part of the problem. I am part of the generation of options. The kids in my generation were raised to believe that we could do and be anything that we wanted in terms of our career. Well, anything is a lot. I remember being a kid and teetering back and forth based on my interests as I grew. When I was really young, I imagined I’d be an astronaut, because, what kid has never said that they wanted to be an astronaut when they grew up? As I got a little older and became more in tune with my own interests, I decided I would be a paleontologist. Dinosaurs were my jam back then. (Actually, they still kind of are). Some other things I considered were a scientist, an actor, a singer, a pediatrician, a teacher, and a writer. As I grew, what I wanted to do with my life changed.

Well, all kids grow up – except one – (sorry, Peter Pan reference… anyway), and when we do, and we have to actually decide what we want to “be”. The pressure to pick one thing out of absolutely anything in the world is immense. And it is not easy. Many of the kids in my generation go to college without a clue as to what they should study. I, like many others do, picked one of my interests and went with it. I always loved trying to understand and help people with their problems, so, when I thought, what do I want to do with my life? I decided that becoming a clinical psychologist would be the right path for me.

Long story short, it didn’t work out. The idea of being a psychologist interested me, but the work that had to be put into getting there did not. So I decided to change majors. I ran through my list of interests and finally ended up at writing. I always loved writing, and in order to become a writer, you just have to read and write, right? Easy enough.

So, several years later, here I am a college graduate with a degree in writing, but not a career in writing.

It happens to so many of us. We were told that we could do and be whatever we wanted, so we struggle through making a decision. Some of us are never able to, and those of us who do make a decision, most of the time end up in a field completely unrelated to what we had in mind.

Wait a minute. That doesn’t seem right, does it? I was told I could be whatever I wanted, and here I am doing something I don’t really like, just so I can survive. How did this happen? This isn’t what I want to do with my life.

Well, somewhere along the lines, the fact that I would have to work hard to get where I wanted to go got lost. I was never prepared for the fact that doing what I wanted meant competing with a zillion other people who want those same things. And so, eventually, I just settled for whatever I could get.

And now I find myself deeply unsatisfied with my life in terms of my career. I wanted to be a writer, I went to school to be a writer, and here I am… Not a writer.

So, I decided to re-evaluate and try to figure out how to get it in line with what I wanted to do with my life. And in doing so, I discovered so much more about myself and what I actually wanted.

I used to want success in the form of wealth and a well-established career. I used to want recognition for my work. I used to want everything to be easy. But now…

I just want to write. I want to share my thoughts and experiences with the world and help people that way. And I want to prove to myself how capable I actually am. That I can get where I want to be, not because anybody can do it, but because I worked hard for it.

I also discovered new passions. I developed a strong interest in health and fitness, something I’d never had a connection with as a kid. I love exercising and eating healthy, and recently, I’ve gotten into yoga. I love yoga. It brings me calm, and peace, and happiness, and gratitude, and satisfaction with myself that I never knew I could have. If I am able, I practice every day. It has become a high priority in my life.

So, now what I’m 26 years old, I have a new plan for myself. I know what I want to do with my life; I want to live a life that is true to me and what I love. Material possessions are no longer important. (Well, a little less important anyway). I define success differently. I don’t have to be recognized for my work or be making top dollar to be successful. I just have to love and be loved. I have to help people in the best way I know how. I have to practice yoga and gratitude. I have to reach inside to find joy in my heart and share it with the world.

My new goals in life (in terms of my career) are:

  1. To keep working toward my career as a writer. Writing is what I love, and it’s the best way I know how to share myself with other people.
  2. Continue my yoga practice and become a certified yoga instructor. Yoga has brought so much to my life that I never knew I could have and I want to share that with other people and help them find things in their life that they may be searching for.
  3. Continue to follow my heart and to do what I love whatever that may be. As we grow we change. We evolve. And as we change and evolve, we develop new interests. If my new found interests lead me down another career path, I want to have the courage to follow that path.

So that’s what I’m doing now. For the past three years, I have settled for a career that I don’t love. I have settled for a job that pays the bills, but that’s it. Even though the work I’m doing is good and the job I have pays well, it’s not what I feel in my heart is right for me anymore. It’s not what I want to do with my life. I want more and I want less. I don’t need a high paying job that gives me the respect of others. I need to do the kind of work that gives me respect for myself. So that’s what I’m going to do.

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