Have you ever been in a place where you didn’t know what you wanted to do with your life?
Many of us go through this as we transition into adulthood. We speak with guidance counselors, figure out a major if we choose to go to college, watch and listen to what our peers are doing, and of course what our parents and other people of influence in our lives recommend.
Sometimes, we get through that, embark upon a path, and then several years later, find ourselves in a similar situation. We’ve now done a thing for a while, and we’re just not sure it feels right anymore. Maybe we’re looking around and noticing other paths that shine with appeal. Or maybe we’re remembering back to a dream from our younger years, and wondering if we should have followed that. Perhaps wondering if we still have time.
I’m learning that these thoughts and feelings are natural, perhaps even common. There comes a point where, especially if we’re not feeling challenged or fulfilled, we begin to look for change.
Early on in our adulthood we may choose to follow money and opportunity. We may be eager to show the world what we can do, perhaps even to compete with our peers in achievement. Alternatively, we may be simply working to get by, to support ourselves and perhaps a family.
Later on, motivations naturally change. If we’re lucky, we’ve been able to make some money and create some stability in our lives, perhaps grow a family, and now we’ve begun to crave meaning.
It’s one thing to understand that our motivation has switched to meaning, and quite another to discover what specifically is going to unlock that meaning for us in our daily lives.
In thinking about this process of discovery, I’ve concluded that (for me) it’s related to the concept of self-mastery, which is the first of the Six Personal Perspectives in the Keller Williams University Curriculum.
You can read more about the six personal perspectives here (one) here (two) here (three) here (four) here (five) and here (six).
Self-mastery is defined as: the possession of great knowledge, skills and habits that make you the master of you.
Specifically, it can be broken down into:
a) knowing your goals
b) knowing your strengths and weaknesses, and
c) making a plan with your strengths and weaknesses taken into account, which (when acted upon) will lead you to realization of your goals.
In this case, we also need a process for re-determining what our goals are. And yet almost like an algebraic equation, we can actually begin to solve for the missing variable (goals) by identifying and working through the other known quantities, which are our strengths and weaknesses and our plan.
We can re-establish what our strengths and weaknesses are by a combination of journaling, asking others who know us well for feedback (to learn about our blind spots) and using personality assessments. We can also then look at what kind of plan our instincts lead us to make, and then imagine ourselves accomplishing the plan.
How do we feel when we put ourselves in that place in our minds? Does it feel like who we really believe we are in our hearts? Or like the person we long to become?
Alternatively (or additionally) we can seek out people who are already in a place that we suspect might be a good fit for us, and we can ask them how they feel.
Do they like where they are? Does it feel like how we imagined it might? Or are we off-base? How similar is that person to us? How did they get to where they are, and is theirs a path that we can follow?
These are just a few strategies for working backwards toward solving for the riddle of who we desire to be.
And who we desire to be is the ultimate motivation, which, when identified, will illuminate the path that leads there.