Ever wake up and wonder, “How is this my life?” “How did I get here?” “Is this where I want to be?” Cue: existential crisis!
Philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre once said, “Everything has been figured out, except how to live.” It’s so absurdly true, at least to me. I often wonder if I am “doing” life right and if I am not, can I steer myself in a new direction or just continue navigating this terrain?
I have given this some thought and I think the first step towards solving this dilemma is understanding where it comes from. For some people, sometimes these thoughts are there because we have a legitimate unhappiness or dissatisfaction that requires some soul-searching.
Figuring out your path is a step-by-step process.
Sometimes, however, these thoughts come because your cousin who is a year younger than you got engaged and even though marriage was never on your mind before, you suddenly panic because you THINK that your life should somehow mimic the other person’s because they are living “the right way.”
You can’t be happy and be on the up-and-up all the time, but most of the time: Are you happy with your goals and vision? Do you still know why you are doing whatever it is you are doing?
If your answer is ‘No and No’
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” —Thomas A. Edison
First, reflect on your experiences and what they have taught you. You have probably learnt a lot more than you have given yourself credit for. This self-awareness is necessary to give you the confidence you need to start making fresh strides.
Next, talk to people who know you well. Be open and receptive to what they say. They might have some insight into yourself that you might have missed.
I once asked my best friend what she felt I would thrive in and she said human resource management. It came as a surprise to me but as I thought about it, I realised she was on to something. It inspired the track I am on and since that talk, I have had more clarity about my goals than I ever did before.
Lastly, do your homework. Learn what’s required to move to a new direction and what sacrifices need to be made. You do not have to do a 180-degree turn—just start with baby steps. Find a night class or just commit a certain amount of time weekly to your new direction.
Becoming your own leader
We all feel a little bit lost at certain points in our lives but the main thing is to never wallow; do something. You are already achieving something and becoming stronger by moving forward with your life. Yes, you will make mistakes and doubt yourself a few more times but keep asking questions. Stay vigilant to what is around you and the answers will present themselves. When they do, act on them.
Remember, successfully moving in a new direction or even just moving forward is a big responsibility, but never believe you have to do it alone. Incorporate your goals into your current job and find opportunities to collaborate with people who are doing what you want to be doing. It’s a smart way to get a taste of something new and if your company has jobs related to your new direction, you can start aligning yourself to become an asset to that department.
“The key to happiness is having dreams; the key to success is making them come true.” —James Allen
It’s never too late. Every stage of our lives brings new opportunities and lessons. The truth is we don’t suddenly become stunted at a certain age. We are always growing and figuring things out so take it easy. We’re in this together.
Louisa thinks we all need to take a deep breath and hustle. Want to have existential crisis conversations with her, you can e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more How To articles, click here.