Recently, I’ve been feeling more stuck in my day to day.
It’s as if I’m driving on a highway going somewhere - but I’m no longer in control of the destination. I nudge my life from lane to lane, unsure where exactly I’m headed, but feeling the effort of every motion and decision.
If this feeling sounds familiar, you aren’t alone, and you may want to keep reading. This anecdotally seems to be a recurring/prevalent topic of discussion between friends around the same age as me (a few years out of college) that made recent life decisions, like a new job, location or partner that somehow doesn’t fit and they aren’t quite sure why.
In college, life is very straightforward. Yes, you are figuring out more about yourself, what you care about and who is important in your life at a rapid rate. After college can also be straightforward for many people - you have a degree in something, so you may as well apply it right? Everyone is recruiting at the same time, and it seems like there are some themes that come up often when indexing for a first job: Whatever you can get, compensation, growth, a fun workplace or problem. Maybe you want to work on a bunch of different things to understand what you like and don’t like to do (me).
The part I’m talking about is : “What comes next”. What happens when you aren’t fulfilled in your job or you’re craving something new but not quite sure what will make you happy, or how to achieve that fulfillment.
I can’t tell you what that is for you, but if you read this essay, you’re going to walk away with a better understanding of yourself by answering a few questions, and reasoning about how to stitch the answers together into a story that makes sense to you.
Where I feel most fulfilled is having a purpose in knowing (1) where I’m going, (2) why I picked that destination, and (3) allowing myself to “autopilot” to that destination through automating and building habits that insist that I cannot deviate from the path I have chosen - not just doing what has been chosen for me because society picked out a path.
I’m still figuring out how to navigate out of this state, but here are a few observations that are helping me see the bigger picture and the story I want to write for myself.
List out 10 career and life goals you would like to achieve, and then pause and ask - why do I want this thing?
A couple of recurring answers you might find are:
You’re then going to ask “why” at least 2 more times until you’ve reached a singular part of your identity that can’t be explained further. This is who you are and to try to get any further than this pretty much means introspecting at the level of some combination of psychology, biology and your own unique upbringing.
Note: There’s nothing wrong with having these goals but what I’m advocating for is writing this script for yourself, not based on what society, your family or friends dictate to be important to them and doesn’t really mean the same for you.