A member shared this in our community:
Some weeks ago, I was interviewed by a local TV channel and the host asked me who my dream clients were and who I’d like to work for. I answered that I’d like to develop a project for one of the brands I admire or for one of my favorite punk rock bands, but I didn’t really feel it. I didn’t believe that I could do it. I’m feeling like my dreams are not genuine and that I don’t really feel them or believe in them.
Afterward, I did a revision of my goals and I discovered none of them are focused on the long term.
It also happens to me when I ask myself the question: Where do I see myself in five years? To be honest, I don’t know the answer. I feel during the last four years that I’ve been improvising. It's like I’m driving a car with my GPS turned off and no particular destination. I’m just going with the flow, without any intention in my actions.
I’m feeling stuck and not making significant progress in terms of the number and the quality of my clients. Also, I’ve realized I have no reason to keep working beyond my ego or just earning money to make a living, and I know I can go beyond that. I can help people and brands using my creative gift.
I’m just paralyzed and trying to find my path. I don’t know how to move on.
(I originally posted this response to the conversation inside our community.)
I received a very similar email from a student just yesterday.
This student didn't know what they wanted to do, where they wanted to go, or what type of work they wanted to specialize in. But they felt pressure to know.
This got me thinking more. I empathize because I have brothers and sisters who are coming to that age where they're trying to figure out what they want to do with their life.
Here's where the problem comes in…
Adults, friends, family members, and strangers will ask young people especially, "So what do you want to do?" They'll ask about your dreams or what you aspire to do.
And you don't know.
But here's what is ridiculous about this whole situation: people don't actually expect you to know. Hear me when I say this: they're just coming up with something to say or talk about! Like discussing the weather, or asking how your week has been, they're just filling the silence.
It's their simple attempt to show they care by asking you about your life…
But the problem is you receive this question as expectation.
"Oh. If they're asking me what I want to focus on, they must expect me to have that figured out already. Since I don't know, that means I'm behind. I don't want to be behind, so I need to come up with an answer. Since I don't know what my answer is, I will make one up so I have an answer. Then I will go through the motions of following this path I made up even though it's not what I want to do or where I want to go because I needed to have a response to look like I had a sense of direction."
Eventually, after going through the motions for long enough, you start to see the forest for the trees and wonder, "Where am I actually going?"
Then you start to feel aimless. Then you start to question your dreams. Then you start to question yourself.
You look around. Everyone else seems to have things figured out. They all have their lives together.
But they don't have their lives together. You're comparing how you feel on the inside to what others project on the outside. They're doing the same exact thing you did: making up an answer and going through the motions. You just don't see the existential crises.
It's okay to not know.
I've been running my own business for 13 years now and I don't even know. I am constantly re-evaluating.
It's good that you've reached this point. It means you're thinking. It means you're questioning. It means you're asking, "Why?"
“Why?” is a good question to ask. It's important to get to the root.
The goal is not to have an answer, the goal is to be okay with pursuing your answer every day.
You may feel uncertain, and you may associate the feeling of uncertainty with hopelessness or despair, but they're not the same thing. It's okay to not know.
Learn to embrace the feeling of uncertainty. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
The unknown is an adventure. You're not sure what the future holds, but that means it can be anything you want. You can do anything you want to do. Try anything, go anywhere. Don't worry about taking the wrong step. Even the wrong step will teach you something. It will lead you a step closer to the right direction as you correct your course.
The worst thing you can be is stagnant out of fear. You can't steer a parked car. Just move. Show up every day. Learn a little more about yourself. Learn a little more about what you like to do. Learn a little more about what makes you come alive.
Life is a journey. I know you've heard it before, but maybe you'll hear it here in a new way. The next thing you do almost certainly won't be the thing you do for the rest of your life, and that's okay. It will lead you to the right thing.