Deciding what to do with your life isn’t remotely easy. Most people never make this decision at all. But since we all end up doing something, if we don’t Choose your life consciously, then a decision will still be made, but it will be an unconscious one.
If you don’t decide how you’re going to live, then someone or something else will decide for you. Most likely you’ll yield your life to a combination of unconscious influences, including your genetic predispositions, your upbringing, your social conditioning, your environment, the other people in your life, and perhaps pure chance.
This might be a good way for pets to live, but not for human beings. We can do better.
Allowing your fate to be decided by external influences will, historically speaking, produce absolutely pathetic results compared to what you could achieve with your life by consciously deciding what you’re going to do with it and why. You might get lucky if you let fate handle the details, but it’s more likely you’ll end up spending your precious time here serving other forces whose plans you probably wouldn’t agree with.
As you grow in awareness and become more fully conscious, at some point you’ll come face to face with the question, “What the heck am I going to do with my life?”
Obviously there’s a lot riding on your answer. It’s not even just about your own life but also the lives of everyone else you might affect during your lifetime. You could choose to be insignificant, but you might also be able to play a hugely significant role in the future direction of this planet. Conscious choice gives you that option. And yielding this option to others doesn’t relieve you of any responsibility whatsoever.
Once your awareness has reached a certain level, it becomes clear that it’s better to answer this question consciously than to allow someone else to answer it for you.
However, as you begin tackling this question, there’s a good chance you’ll find it such a daunting task that you soon yield to the temptation of returning to unconscious living. Please don’t do that. Although answering this question is indeed one of the major challenges you’ll face as a human being, it’s a problem you’re capable of solving – and well worth the effort.
Here are some ideas on how to approach this question that might make it easier for you to answer intelligently.
Strive to understand reality as accurately as possible.
A key component of deciding how to live is developing an understanding of how this universe you find yourself in actually works. You need to know the rules of play before you can devise a basic strategy. So the search for purpose begins with the search for truth.
Ideally once you develop an understanding of how the universe works, enough that it makes sense to you intellectually, emotionally, and intuitively, then you can begin figuring out what role you’ll play within this universe.
If you don’t have an accurate enough model of reality, you can’t intelligently decide how to live. You can still make such a decision, but most likely it will be a poor one. Imagine that you’re playing a game of checkers and decide how you’re going to play. But what happens if it turns out you’re really playing chess? Your strategy simply isn’t going to work. It’s the same with deciding what to do with your life. If your model of reality is too inaccurate, then all your decisions will be bug-ridden, and most likely you’ll crash a lot. In practical terms this means you’ll have a hard time making progress towards your goals. Weak results will become the norm for you.
If you encounter difficulties in choosing a life purpose, the problem may be further upstream. Dive deeper into your understanding of reality. Question your beliefs, especially the ones you were taught never to question. What if you’re wrong?.
When you understand reality accurately enough, your purpose will practically jump out at you. Ultimately when you understand reality, you understand yourself. Your role in the world then becomes clear.
Does your purpose make sense in the short term?
In this very moment, are you happy? I’m not referring to mere contentment. A potted plant is content. I mean… are you passionate about your life? Do you get more excited about going on vacation than you do about doing your real work? Are you in love with your existence? Are you delighted to be here on earth at this particular time?
If you’re the type of person who goes around saying that passion just isn’t your thing, then you’ve sacrificed too much. If you’re living on purpose, an intense inner excitement will be your normal modus operandi. Don’t be afraid – this passion won’t suddenly transform you into an emotional moron that bounces around like a fairy on drugs. Passion is emotional fuel. It will push you to live at full capacity. Without passion you’ll frequently stop short and let opportunities pass you by again and again for lack of will. Mere intellect can only get you so far. There’s a difference between deciding to achieve a goal and actually achieving it. Your intellect can handle the former, but it’s pathetic at achieving the latter. Wouldn’t it be nice to achieve some goals instead of just setting them again and again? Paper goals are nice to look at, but wouldn’t you rather have the real thing? Passion will help you get there, sometimes at a pace that will make people’s heads spin.
In order to do your best, you must learn to harness the fuel of passion. If you were an android, you wouldn’t need passion. Use your powerful intellect to recognize that you do have emotions whether you want them or not, and accept that a Vulcan lifestyle is sub-optimal for human beings. As you develop emotional intelligence, you can learn to utilize the powerful fuel of passion without running afoul of your intellect. You want to be passionate and smart, not passionate and confused. Passion + intelligence is a powerful combination.
If your decision about what to do with your life doesn’t take advantage of the daily fuel of passion, then you’ve made the wrong decision. Go back and try again.
When you experience passion, it means that at least in this present moment, your decision about how to live makes sense. It’s congruent with reality. Your body will begin burning the fuel of passion because it believes you’re heading in the right direction. It’s worth the effort to light that fuse and to keep it burning instead of conserving energy by turning you into a couch potato. But if your decision looks too dumb, your body will hold back. It won’t expend the energy – it’s saying, “Nope, not worth it.”
If you find the passion is gone from parts of your life, see the message behind its absence. Listen to the, “Nope, not worth it” signal you’re getting. Maybe it’s a dead-end job, a dead-end relationship, or a dead-end exercise program. Whatever it is, if your body hasn’t kicked into high gear with the fuel of passion, you’ve made the wrong choice. It’s time to make a different decision.
Passion is a force multiplier. With passion you become much stronger than without it. It’s truly amazing what a single passionate individual with a clear purpose can achieve. If you were to subtract perhaps the top 100 such people from history (out of billions of humans), we’d probably still be living in caves..
Does your purpose make sense in the long term?
Many decisions seem fairly intelligent in the moment, but when you imagine how they’ll play out over the next 10, 20, or 50 years, their weaknesses become apparent. When choosing a life purpose, it should not only fuel you with passion in the present moment – it should look even better across a variety of time frames.
Consider your job, for example. Where will it lead you in the long run? Think about where it will take you between now and the end of your life. Imagine you’ve reached your final day on earth, and you look back upon your career. How do you feel about it?
If you’ve made the correct decision about what to do with your life, then you should feel that overall, this was the best possible choice you could have made without the benefit of specific hindsight. You will see some mistakes you made along the way, but you’ll also see that given what you knew at the time, they were largely unavoidable. When you look back over your life, your dominant thought will be, “I did my best. I may not have lived a perfect life, but I did the best I could. And for that reason, I have no major regrets. If my life must now end, then so be it.”
If, on the other hand, this scenario scares the bejesus out of you, then you’ve got some work to do. It means your current direction isn’t sound. It will not pass the test of time, and at some point you’ll have to face reality. It’s better to do it now than to wait, since the longer you put it off, the more catastrophic the results will be.
It can be very hard to face the truth today when the consequences may be years away. But eventually you will have to face that truth at some point. In fact, it’s with you right now. When you clog your consciousness with the burden of falsehood, you lower your awareness. By refusing to face what you perceive to be the unfaceable, you begin living a lie. And then instead of living honestly, your energies are consumed by the perpetuation of that lie.
If your relationship is dead, at least admit that truth to yourself even if you can’t admit it to anyone else. Journal about it privately and explore your honest feelings. If your career is unfulfilling and you work just to pay the bills, admit that to yourself, and also admit that you want something better. It’s OK to be weak and helpless. It’s not OK to lie to yourself. Being weak will not lower your consciousness, but being false will.
While there will be implementation issues that depend on the specifics of your current situation, your high-level decision about what to do with your life shouldn’t be based on elements outside your control. It should be flexible enough that you can adapt it to changing circumstances, even when the changes are massive or brutal.
Don’t give up!
I know it’s not easy to discover your life purpose. It may take years for you to figure it out. But no one who has discovered their purpose will tell you it wasn’t worth the effort. It’s a long journey, sometimes over difficult terrain, but the rewards you will experience along the way are without equal.
If you don’t yet know what your purpose is, then your purpose for right now is to figure it out.
At some point you’ll hit one of those big obstacles that makes you want to give up and slink back down into low awareness living. You’ll catch yourself thinking that maybe you should just model your life after the fictional characters you see on the TV, or perhaps you’ll long to just be “normal” and fit in like everyone else. But that kind of life isn’t for you, and you know it. If you’ve read this much without turning away, then your awareness is already too high for you to be happy living like the sleeping masses. It’s time to wake up. The bright light will hurt your eyes at first, even make your eyes water, but you’ll get used to it. And then you’ll receive your own high-powered awareness flashlight. And I have to tell you that it’s oodles of fun shining that thing in people’s eyes when they least suspect it… for kicks and giggles, you know. Of course it’s great for helping people raise their awareness too.