“I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.”
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve said or heard this phrase, I’d be living in my oceanfront dream home. I’m beginning to believe that the problem isn’t that we don’t know. In fact, nearly everyone I speak to has a good idea of exactly what they want.
This isn’t a new discovery. This is the theme of countless books, including Acres of Diamonds and The Alchemist. These are the stories of people who spends their lives searching for answers that have been with them all along.
I see this time and again when I work with people going through a transition. They start by saying that they don’t know what they want to do next. When I begin asking questions, they’re quite certain about what they envision for their future. And those who aren’t certain have a pretty good idea.
It’s easy to recognize because I do it too. It took me three years, six months, and eight days to launch this website after deciding it was my dream. When I had a demanding corporate career, I told myself I didn’t have time. But when I finally had freedom to start working on this dream, I spent the first nine months trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life.
I recognized a need to share this message during a discussion with a thirty-year-old student at the Aveda School. I like these “older” students. They’re usually in their second or third career and have interesting stories about finding their passion.
I asked her about how she got here. She told me how she went to school for geology and ended up earning a bachelor’s degree in communications. After college, she worked in elementary education. When I asked what made her want to transition from education to cosmetology, her eyes lit up as she told me how she’s known since high school.
I asked her why she didn’t do it sooner. Like most of us, she had lots of excuses. She didn’t want to incur debt, lose her income, take the risk, etcetera. Then she said, “maybe I was afraid that if I tried it and didn’t love it, my dream would die.”
How about you?
Do you know what you want but are afraid to admit it?
If not knowing what we want isn’t the problem, what is?
Based on my own experience and what others have shared with me, it comes down to false beliefs and fear. Here are the most common.
Lack of Confidence
As I mentioned in last week’s post, many of us struggle to feel confident in our abilities. Some of us have false beliefs that we’re not capable or don’t deserve it. Recognizing these false beliefs is the first step to building your confidence. This book is a great resource.
We all have something we love to do that we’ve been told we can’t make a living doing. We worry about our current obligations, bills, and family. But there’s ALWAYS a way to make it work. You CAN follow your passion and earn a good income.
Let go of the idea that it’s either or.
We all have the same number of hours each week and we all get to choose how we use that time. It’s not about squeezing more in, but investing our time into what we most value. If you don’t have time to invest in the things are important to you, admit that you are making a choice.
Pay attention to how you spend your time each day. How many times do you hit snooze in the morning? Do you have a mind-numbing activity you go to when you feel stressed like TV, social media, or video games? Maybe you have a healthy habit, like exercise, that you spend too much time on. (I’m guilty of all of these!)
One small tweak can get you back on track.
- Get up an hour earlier.
- Cancel your television service.
- Delete the social media apps from your phone.
- Stop doing things that are no longer important to you.
Stop being a victim of time.
There are obvious fears like failure, criticism, rejection, and even success. But like the hair stylist, many of us are afraid that if we don’t love it, our dream will die. It’s like we care more about the dream than fulfillment.
Finally, there’s FOMO. The fear of missing out. It’s the belief that if you go after what you want now, you might miss out on what you really want later. I learned that when you let go of FOMO and start chasing your dream, new opportunities appear. Opportunities that would never have happened had you not taken action.
Set a reasonable timeframe to make a decision and START!
Maybe you know exactly what you want but are overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin. Take your focus off of the big dream, ten years down the road. Focus on one small step to can do today that will get you closer to where you want to go. The journey of a thousand miles begins with one small step.
Which of these beliefs and fears do you identify with?
If you took money off the table and stopped caring about what people think, what would you do? You get to choose.
Give yourself permission to stop searching. Decide on one thing and begin taking action.
If you invest one hour per day working on your dream, what will your life be like a year from now?
Nothing worth having happens overnight. It’s easy to look at someone and think, man, they’re lucky, they just leapt and landed on success. The truth is that their success was built on tiny steps taken consistently over years. That journey began the moment they admitted what they want.
Are you ready to do the same? Tell me what you want in the comments below.
Still Searching for Clarity?
Becoming the best versions of ourselves is a lifelong adventure. As we grow and change, so will our dreams and passions. It’s normal to feel stuck sometimes. Check out these resources for more clarity.