Find Your Path
It’s pretty alarming how many of us do not find our jobs meaningful or challenging. Imagine you had access to a time machine and buzzed back to a conference with the fifteen year old version of you. Would you be proud to report on the path you have chosen? Would you have a few words of warning or encouragement? If you’re happy about where you are and where you’re headed way to go! If you feel otherwise it’s never too late to discover what you were meant to be and do.
Albert Einstein said “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Imagine if Jimi Hendrix had never picked up a guitar or if Shakespeare had never learned to read. When we start to consider the massive amounts of untapped potential lying dormant in humanity it feels like such a waste. For every person who does self-actualize there are countless people who live their lives without knowing who or what they could have become. One of the reasons why is that our culture has a very narrow view of what intelligence is and people who fall outside of this definition spend their lives feeling stupid. They are fish trying to climb up trees.
The first thing you’ve got to do is look yourself honestly in the mirror and ask how many career choices you have seriously investigated. How can you possibly know which hat fits you best if you haven’t tried them all on? Obviously there are a lot of practical reasons for people to stay in the jobs they do have, supporting themselves and their families being at the top of the list. But there are equal amounts of rationalizations and excuses thrown in the mix. Did you know that the average U.S. adult watches 34 hours of television a week? That is almost an entire work week of free time that could be used to exponentially broaden your base of interests. You can find out what you really love and have a natural knack for and start to develop a plan to turn it into a career.
The psychologist Rollo May believed that Eros is the energy that pulls us forward and helps us grow. It is what gives life its passion and excitement. It drives us towards union with the highest possible actualization of ourselves and in the process gives our lives meaning and direction. But you have to open your mind and your heart to hear its call. If you haven’t found a pursuit that does this for you keep looking and consider areas you have never explored.
A great place to start on your adventure is a meetup group. Especially if you live in an urban area there are meetups for interests across the board and you can easily find them online. The more open you are to possibilities the more likely you will find a path that makes sense to you. Sometimes we chance upon what ends up giving our lives the most meaning.
Most psychologists assert that a key to happiness in whatever job you choose is that your projects are challenging but doable. Many people fear to go outside of their bubbles and prefer to have easy tasks so that they don’t have to risk failure. You’ve got to open yourself up to the possibility of failure in order to find true success, and a low-risk place to start is by pursuing a new interest outside of work.
A world famous sushi chef named Jiro, reflecting on the direction his life has taken, said something beautiful and simple in the documentary ‘Jiro Dreams of Sushi’. “When you have discovered what you love, do whatever it takes to become a master at it.” When you step outside the tiny box that your teachers, family, and culture have tried to force you into, blow it apart, and find out what it is you truly love you will become a master because you will feel the pull of Eros constantly drawing you forward, helping you stay focused on building on your competence.