This week a friend reached a significant milestone. This made me think about what I’d want the next ten years of life to look like. It also made me think about how, as a younger person, I imagined different stages of my life. Also, I realised how thinking of the rest of my life doesn’t freak me out anymore.
In my mid-teens I was more than overwhelmed as I imagined adulthood. Sometimes to the extent of appetite loss and insomnia. The future freaked me out. The thing is, I grew up hearing some older people talking about five-year plans.
As a sixteen year old, I had the pressure of deciding what I wanted to do for a career. My high school subject choices had a significant bearing on what I could study in university. In a sense, I had to decide the rest of my life.
So, hearing all the “five-year plan” and “choose your subjects carefully” talks, I was a nervous wreck. I can articulate this now and I wish I had the vocabulary and elocution to communicate this to my parents. (I wish I had thought about writing what I felt then. Things might have been easier…)
The reason thinking of the rest of my life used to freak me what was that I felt I had to have a life plan. I understood a plan to be a carefully crafted and concrete strategy. I felt I had to have every possible obstacle factored in and clear contingencies for all of them.
The pressure of having all of my life completely and clearly figured, stifled my imagination. Tried to suffocate my confidence and expectation for the future. Though I was greatly affected I’m glad I never gave in. I never gave up on the sense that I had to accomplish meaningful and long-lasting things with my life.
So, how did I stop being freaked out by thinking about the rest of my life? I allowed myself to think very broad. I knew that I wanted to make my life count; to change the world. That is what I wrote in a lost notebook.
Then, I looked at the skills I had and the things I felt drawn to (One of those things was Information Technology, which I studied and worked in for a while).
With all this I focused, and poured myself into a next few steps. I also pursued ‘small passions’, like music. I had fun writing and making music with friends. I was present. I didn’t ignore the future. I just focused on getting to it a step at a time. And, serendipity!
I do think about the future but in not many certain terms. I know I want to make a difference and live a fulfilled life. I just focus on the skills, opportunities and passion, a step at a time. Some things I explore as hobbies, and other things with a little more intensity.
You don’t have to have everything about your life figured out [Click to Tweet]
Instead of trying to figure out everything about your life focus on your next steps [Click to Tweet]