Don’t wait until you’ve grown up to be who you want to be. I understand the value of working and learning under someone. But be careful doing that too well and for too long. Other people will have difficulty seeing your potential because they see you as an expert servant. Try to avoid being the best at anything out of line with your goals. Focus on your dream, and pursue it with a vengeance. Live it, breathe it, and ignore anyone who stands in your way. Break the hierarchy. Skip steps. Knock the ladder down. Do not compromise. Do not wait. Be who you want to be NOW.
A quarter of the average American’s week is spent on the clock and a third is spent asleep at night. Many work even longer hours than that. With so much time and energy devoted to one thing, it’s worth it for our health and sanity to make sure our jobs are fulfilling.
Everyone wants a job he or she can be excited to wake up for in the morning. For me, I need a job that I can believe in. A company building things I believe in. Leadership with strategy I believe in. But that’s just me. Most people can find joy in their work without being tied to the higher context of their employment.
So what constitutes “meaningful work?” I think it’s simple. A job where you’d rather do nothing else with that valuable time. Perhaps a job that satisfies your need to create or relate with the world. Perhaps a job working to solve an important problem. Or perhaps a job that’s plain and simple fun.
In any case, you choose to do the work over anything else. Do what you want to do for a living. Find a job like that, and life will be good.
Believe it or not, I do not think very hard. I am a creature of intuition. I let my mind wander all the time. And I use it to my advantage.
Like involuntary dreaming during REM sleep, daydreaming taps into your subconscious. Without focusing your mind, various images, ideas, sensations, emotions and reactions will crop up and fill the thought void.
Stare into space. Let your consciousness drift. Then sit back and listen. Track your thoughts. Where do they wander? A memory? Another project? Someone special? Something specific? An abstract concept?
Take note of your mental journey. Journal if you need to. Keep an eye out for repetition and redundancy, especially recurring themes or concepts. Pay attention to and follow patterns – they can shape your values and interests. Core values and interests will help frame your subconscious and offer macrocosmic insight into your heart’s brightest fires.
What is the common denominator? With enough practice, you should be able to identify a common thread through all of your mental wanderings. Weave this thread through the conventional world and you can chart a personal campaign to feed the fire. Relationships, careers, literature, conversations, invention, art, food and travel can all take part in bringing your true passion to life.
The first step to feeding your soul is to learn what your soul likes to eat.
Degrees? Funds? Ideas? Street smart? Experience? Politics? Connections?
No. Not even close.
Your heart is the key to success. Passion is the fuel that sustains hard work, manifests talent and ties relationships. If you love what you do and love the people around you, you will succeed. If you don’t, you probably won’t – at least not in the manner you personally define success.
Frankly, the question is bullshit. We are guided to answer it with a profession, a title or a lifestyle.
“I want to be an artist.” “I want to be the president.” “I want to be a film director.” “I want to stay at home and raise my children.”
The problem? There’s far more to life than a title, many roads to travel, and too much time to do only one thing. Your answer will change. It has since you were born, it will continue to evolve until the day you die. My answer changed throughout my life from Locomotive Engineer to Meteorologist to Starship Captain to Video Game Designer to Film Producer to Technology CEO. I have been all over the map, with passion and curiosity. I am sure you have, too.
I understand the question. “What do you want to be?” It is a focusing mechanism, the answer of which can help guide you into the trials and tribulations of adulthood. Unfortunately, the question suggests that there is only one answer per person. It distinguishes between future (“what will you become”) and present (“what you are now”). And it prompts you to cite conventional societal roles or industries as a solution to your life problem. Woe is you if your job title is at the core of your eulogy.
I propose a new question:
“What is your purpose?”
Purpose is your mission in life, your agenda, the core principal that guides you when you wake up in the morning and drives you to make decisions. No matter the career or role you play, purpose underlies everything you say and do.
What would you die for?
I want to bring people together. That’s my purpose. And that purpose is far more noble and omnipresent than my resume or my title.
You graduated college. Time for the real world. The bills, the loans, the career, and perhaps even children. Life gets difficult, responsibility escalates. You need help now more than ever. But wait – where did all my friends go?
Being twenty-something can be a very lonely experience. Why? All of your peers are preoccupied with the real world, too. They are all busy reconciling jobs, covering the bases, relocating, soul-searching, starting families, and planning for futures yet unseen. You are not alone. But you are alone.
Some adults never recover. They never find a social life again. The burdens of adulthood consume and defeat an otherwise fruitful, interpersonal existence.
That does not have to be your fate. All twenty-somethings suffer relatable woes. Why not help each other? Revisit an old relationship once every day. Rebuild your support group. Make a habit of staying in touch weekly. Get out of the house at least two weeknights every week. Get out of your own head as often as possible. If it is too difficult to meet new friends, re-meeting old friends can be much easier. You do not have to be alone. But only you can take action; do not wait to be called.
Pick up the damn phone.