Why It’s Okay Not To Have It All Figured Out
Do you feel worried when you think about where you wish to see yourself when you’re 25, when you’re 30, when you’re 50, and so on? Well, you needn’t worry about figuring out all your life’s facets and here’s why!
How often have you heard someone telling you “enjoy your school life”, or “you should make the most of your college days, they’ll be gone before you know it”? Well, some people do take these statements to their hearts, and try to implement these in their lives as much as they can. While there are others who constantly feel under the pressure to prove themselves, and feel burdened by the uncertainty of the future. Worrying about one’s career can be healthy upto a certain extent, where it motivates you to work harder. But worrying too much about what you are going to do next, or how to get your dream job, can sometimes take a toll on your health.
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A student is encouraged and ‘pushed’ to decide what they are going to do with their lives. Sometimes, they are also compelled to pursue common careers such as that of a doctor, teacher, lawyer, or an engineer. Children are not given creative liberty to figure out where their passion lies. A student is rarely ever encouraged to pursue such professions. Dr. Shreya Chakravarty, a psychologist at Apollo Health City, Hyderabad, quotes “most of us are conditioned to think that a successful life is the one which is all figured out, systematic and well planned and if it's not then you are a failure”.
There can be two sides to this pressure, first which comes from people constantly asking us what we are going to do in our lives, and the second, is the one which is intrinsic to us. We all believe that the grass is greener at the other side of the lawn, and as we believe so, it can seem that others have life figured out and we are the only ones who are confused and lost. This puts a lot of pressure on a person, and can eventually lead to burnout. Dr. Shreya says that the problem lies when we live our life based on expectations, others as well as ours. And when we fail to meet these expectations, we believe that we are lost.
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Instilling A Carpe Diem Mentality
We often don’t have the answer to ‘what’s next?’. But uncertainty can raise better questions about ‘what could be next’. Not having a specific goal to fixate on (like “I want to become a cardiologist”) allows you to consider professions you might never consider otherwise.
Wonder about the times where you felt that you were doing your best work and felt most satisfied. Now think about what other contexts might such moments be possible? (like if you feel highly rejuvenated while performing yoga, would you consider being a yoga teacher?)
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The constant turbulence of today’s world and fluid workplace environment means you have to constantly evolve. But humans seek predictability in their lives, we don’t like to pivot unless we’re forced to. What if, instead, you allowed yourself to lean towards discomfort? By being in face with ambiguity, you weaken its grip, and make it less terrifying. Voltaire famously said, “Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.”
Rather than aiming at a narrow target like “I want to become a cardiologist”, or a vague broad one like “I wish to help others live a better life”, consider what it would mean to live more purposefully each day. Consider which small habits can you inculcate in your routine which will make you prone towards success in the field you wish to pursue. Focus on the little opportunities that the world throws at you to be good at what you do. For instance, if you wish to help others live a better life, look out for places where you can volunteer or donate regularly, in your free time.
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It’s OK To Not Know What You Want To Do, Or Have A Lifelong Career Figured Out
You have time. You have time to look at different careers, and pursue only what you please. There’s nothing wrong in not wanting to follow the traditional career path of finding a job right after school or college, and stick to it.
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A paper published by Harvard on the Upside Of Feeling Uncertain About Your Career in 2022 shows that traveling to different parts of the world allows you to be more flexible, learn new perspectives, develop a new way of looking at life, explore your interests, and a lot more.
At one point in life, a person may also have their mind fixed on a particular career, such as that of being a psychologist or a dietician, and that would give them a great motivation and straight path to work to achieve their goals. So at some times it is wonderful to plan and set concrete goals. In the meantime, it is crucial to remember that not having it all figured out with alternate plans doesn’t make you less productive or hamper your growth. Dr. Shreya adds that life does not always go according to the plan, there could be moments of perfection but there could also be moments of randomness present in our lives.
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You Can Create A Worthwhile Future While Enjoying The Present Moment
Sometimes we get so wrapped up in thinking and worrying about what we are going to do next that we lose sight of the present. We are afraid of things not working out, and this prevents us from enjoying the present moment. Dr. Shreya emphasizes the importance of ‘present’. She states that if we constantly fret about our past, it affects our present and similarly if we are constantly worried about our future, we will miss the present moments.
According to Dr. Shreya, it's our present moments where we can actually be happy, feel joy, and peace which is very important for both our physical and mental health and wellbeing. For instance, if a person who is on their weight loss journey may worry about not losing the weight in the future and not put in the effort required for it today.. However, if they would focus primarily on how much exercise they have to do today, and remain motivated the results would show in due time.
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Developing such a mindset might be challenging, as it requires us to engage in positive habits everyday to find success in what we desire. However, as we become conscious of what must be done, it can allow us to relax since we know consistency will show results. A person might even face a negative stigma associated with people who do not have a clear career path decided for them, but there’s nothing wrong in going with the ‘flow’ and giving yourself the space to grow, evolve, and succeed.
It is okay to go out and explore many different fields and professions to see what you truly love, and you may even need to do this several times throughout your lives. Whether it is working from home, traveling and working, working for a cause, or working with children, try it all and figure out what you love, and enjoy the most!
Expert’s Tips On Being Satisfied With Where You Are Now
1. Stop finding excuses, accept the confusion of life, take responsibility and work hard.
2. Don’t limit yourself with ‘Should be’ or ‘Must be’ statements.
3. Seek out honest and open examples for ‘how to live a successful life’.
4. Do not compare yourself with others.
5. Make your decision and don’t indulge into ‘fortune telling’ thinking.
6. Live in the present and allow time to take its call.
7. Remember that there is a place for everything, learn to compartmentalise.
8. Stop worrying about others’ opinions.