Some days I wake up and I have no idea what to do with life. Time keeps happening and I’m sitting there watching it mildly frustrated, then acutely frustrated, then really freaking scared that that time going by is my life and I still haven’t made a choice.
So whiney. I don’t know why I choose to not choose so often, it seems like an awful waste… especially if I’m not going to have fun with it.
Anyway, I have a feeling that, if you’re reading Though Catalog, you might do that too every once in a while. Maybe every day.
Anyway, here are 5 tricks to help you decide on what to do:
1. The Guaranteed.
Obviously you’d rather not have cancer later. Or heart disease. You’d rather have someone be nice to you than not.
So you can do the things that will definitely be the right choice later on: exercise, eat well, meditate, save some money, make a friend, send a nice text, smile at someone, write a letter….
2. Define the Enemy.
Sometimes I have no idea what I want my life to look like and I have no idea who I want to be. I ALWAYS know who I DON’T want to be, I know what I don’t want my life to be.
If you feel like that, just push against it. You know you don’t want to be homeless. You know you don’t want to be arrogant. You know you don’t want to work for seven different bosses.
Sometimes it’s focusing on an idea you want to fight, sometimes it’s a specific person.
Here’s a (longish) quote from Robert Greene’s 33 Strategies of War:
“The more clearly you recognize who you do not want to be, then, the clearer your sense of identity and purpose will be. …
Focus on an enemy. It can be someone who blocks your path or sabotages you, whether subtly or obviously; it can be someone who has hurt you or someone who has fought you unfairly; it can be a value or idea that you loathe and that you see in an individual or group. It can be an abstraction: stupidity, smugness, vulgar materialism. Do not listen to people who say that the distinction between friend and enemy is primitive and passé. They are just disguising their fear of conflict behind a front of false warmth. They are trying to push you off course, to infect you with the vagueness that inflicts them. Once you feel clear and motivated, you will have space for true friendship and true compromise. Your enemy is the polar star that guides you. Given that direction, you can enter battle.”
It takes strength to admit that a negative really can be a positive… if you have it, use it. This isn’t about hate or spite, by the way, it’s about fighting a good fight.
It’s using what’s obviously bad to get you to what wasn’t obviously good.
3. What is Exciting You.
Some of us are lucky enough to be excited about things. Maybe it’s an interest in rubber ducky collecting. Maybe it’s bird watching. Maybe it’s cooking chicken 101 different ways. I have no idea, but it probably has to do with birds.
I get excited when I can follow my excitements. It might not start as excitement though, it might start as a vague interest.
Follow the interest a little. Maybe it triggers slightly more interest. You can live off of dull interests for a while… they snowball into big excitement.
That’s what happened to me and writing. I had to do it one day. And now if I don’t do it I get severely depressed. So, thank you, dear reader, for saving my life.
But this isn’t about me. It’s you and your nagging interest to look up celebrity tattoos on Wikipedia. Maybe you’ll get bored, maybe you’ll form a grand theory of the correlation between tattoos and number of Oscars won. I don’t know. Maybe you’ll just start making a living by helping people on the internet. Either could happen. I don’t know what you’re interested in.
But I know you should follow the interest.
4. What Scares You.
As long as it’s not the fear of getting STD’s or getting shot or otherwise risking our lives, it’s usually good to lean into fear.
Every time I’ve embarrassed myself publicly things have gone well or not mattered at all.
I gave a drunk business pitch at a business competition. A film crew captured it and it began to go viral… until some old mean lady got offended and it got taken down and the organization slapped my wrist. They still talk to me, even invite me to things, it’s okay.
I cried to my boss when I had one. I cried to my sister’s old boss. I cried to some other people one night I was blackout drunk. They probably judged me, but they also opened up and we connected in a way they wouldn’t have otherwise.
I’m not saying to get drunk and do stupid things. Or even to cry at people.
One time I got scared and jumped out of an airplane, that was sweet. A year ago I got scared and posted a blog post that still gets like 1000 hits a day. My business partner and I launched a coaching program before we knew we could do it… we were so scared! We just made way too much money on it.
I got scared and sent an audition video to Tobacco Free Florida. They paid me $1200 and put me on the front page of their website for a year.
I got scared and asked her on a date. I got really scared and kissed her. I got really scared and undid her bra. Now she’s sitting here texting and waiting for me to finish typing this thing.
So many good things happened because I got scared.
5. The Feather-in-the-Wind Way.
Maybe you’re at the place where you should just decide to not decide.
Wander through places. Wander through people. Wander through life. Just be moved. Sometimes you can take a break from all the moving.
There is so much pressure to make it happen… but so much shit is already happening. All those people doing 1-4 right now are making so many things happen.
Next to the ocean or the weather they’re basically making zero things happen.
So just happen like a Buddhist. Or be happened to. Whatever.
I spent a lot of time like this on my cross country road trip. I didn’t use a map. I just drove west until I hit an ocean. I stopped when I wanted to write a poem or look at a landscape. I stayed wherever for however long. It didn’t matter.
I was a feather.
What am I now?
I don’t know.
I’m drinking some wine. I want to convince this girl to watch A Pervert’s Guide to Ideology with me. Then I want to sleep. Then I want to spend tomorrow making StartupBros bigger so we can help more people.
How will I make decisions about how to do these things?
I’m not sure. I’ll probably come back here and see if I had any decent ideas about it.
May the Force be with you and may you be the Force or whatever you want (or don’t!).