“What do I do with my life!?” We’ve all asked this question to ourselves at some point. Some are able to figure it out and achieve great things, while others are left confused and agitated because they haven’t discovered their true calling. If you’re one of those people, here are a couple words of advice that will help you reach that “Aha!” moment.
While it’s great to have friends whom you hang out with all the time, it’s not good to deny yourself the chance to meet new people. This allows you to be exposed to new ideas and perspectives which will help you think of ways you want to change the world. Don’t be afraid to network and take random meetings with people- even Gary Vaynerchuk has noted in the past the value of taking random meetings. I personally had this habit of eating by myself at restaurants; I’ve met billionaires, investors, successful entrepreneurs, and olympians at the sushi bar. Don’t be afraid to talk to the person next to you at the bus stop or restaurant. You never know who you could meet and the opportunities that could appear before you.
In order to put yourself in a position to think of new ideas, you have to be around people that offer different perspectives. Don’t stick around with people who constantly talk about mind-numbing things like gossip or the next big music festival that everyone and their moms are going to. Remember the saying: “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”
I’ve learned my most valuable lessons from doing things without thinking and messing everything up. While I think that it’s good to learn from other people’s failures and to be well informed, I think that in some cases, it’s good to to find things out yourself. To use an extreme example, while people can tell you not to touch a hot stove because you’ll get burned, sometimes you need to experience the burn yourself because experience trumps all. I’ve landed in so many bad business deals in the past and I’ve worked with people who backstabbed me in the end, but those lessons ultimately molded me into the person I am today.
So take that low-paying job or unpaid internship at a startup if you’re interested in what they’re doing. Even though your fate is undecided, at least you’ll know whether it is an industry you want to get in. At the end of the day, the worse than can happen is for you to find out that you don’t want to work there. There is always something to gain when you lose.
Before Ellen Huerta founded her startup Mend, she earned a six-figure salary at Google and had access to all of the company’s benefits which included free gourmet food, a gym membership, access to a hair salon, and a laundry facility. Even with all these perks and a comfortable income, she felt unfulfilled and took years to finally muster the courage to leave and find her true purpose. After spending a couple months to recharge, she finally came up with the idea for Mend, a startup that helps people get over breakups. She is now happier than ever.
Being comfortable is the worst thing you can do if you’re still searching for your purpose in life. It’s easy to stick with the comfort of a decent paying job with the same daily routine, but if deep down you know you’re not happy, you must make changes. Strive to get out of your routine and try new things; quit that job and do something that gives you that sense of fulfillment.
While many are starting to give the advice that college isn’t useful for entrepreneurs or success seekers, college is actually a great place to find out what you want to do in the future. You are bound to meet so many different people who can inspire you to think of new ideas. While I went to school for Psychology, I didn’t know that I wanted to be my own boss until I met a classmate that was making $45,000 playing poker. From that contact, I met even more successful people who helped me realized that I wanted to become an entrepreneur. On top of that, you have your degree to fall back on (well sort of, depending on how valuable you think it is) if you still can’t find out what you want to do after graduation.
Adam Braun had a successful career in finance until he traveled to India and saw a young boy begging in the streets. He stopped and asked the boy what he wanted most in the world to which he replied, “a pencil.” The boy’s positive expression upon receiving the pencil inspired him to create “Pencils of Promise,” a non-profit organization that helps increase educational opportunities and builds schools in third-world countries.
Traveling to a new country exposes yourself into new cultures and ideologies. It allows you to see beyond the comfortable confines of where you grew up. This puts you in a position to think of new ideas and potentially give you that epiphany of your purpose in life, just like what happened to Adam.
Stay away from anything that is “mind-numbing.” In a world where there is plenty that can distract you online, it’s easy to entertain yourself on YouTube or 9GAG all day. Things like that can prevent your creative juices from flowing- it’s literally just something to waste your time on. You need to get yourself in the mindset of constantly thinking and observing the things around you. The more questions you ask, the higher the chances of you finding one you’re most passionate in answering.
If I have to explain to you why this is helpful, I don’t know what to say to you. For everyone else, if you like things more direct, I recommend reading What Color Is Your Parachute? 2014: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers by Richard N. Bolles.
Take a look at the world around you- what are some things that happen in your daily life that piss you off? A lot of successful entrepreneurs today came up with their business idea because they wanted to create a solution to the problems around them in their lives. Alan Schaaf created Imgur because there wasn’t a good image host out there for the Reddit community. Alex Ljung and Eric Wahlforss created SoundCloud because their wasn’t a good platform that allowed musicians to share recordings with each other. Napster co-founder Sean Parker has noted in the past that great entrepreneurs manage to create successful companies by figuring out the problems in the world that they wanted to fix. This notion applies to those who don’t strive to be entrepreneurs; which organization or company can you join that ties into your passions?
While I don’t recommend you do things that put your life in jeopardy (ex. Wolf of Wall Street and Quaaludes), it’s important to get into this mindset of constantly trying new things. This is extremely crucial especially if you haven’t figured out what you want to do with your life yet. Can you imagine what would’ve happened if Michael Jordan said no to his first experience in basketball?