You Don’t Have to Figure It All Out Today

by Don Smith

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The other day, I grilled a young man who joined our personal development community about what his life goals were a few minutes after meeting him. It was evident to me that he had a solid general direction, family, career, friends, the usual stuff most of us want, but he didn't have a lot of specific answers yet on what he wanted to do. I pointed him to our life balance workbook and career testing to help keep him thinking about his long-term goals as I feel it is essential to think about those early on.

I felt terrible after disconnecting because I can be a little too intense sometimes. I felt like I had unintentionally communicated that there was something wrong about not having all the specifics figured out, when in fact I saw a ton of potential in the guy especially considering he was already investing in personal development on his own at a young age. He wasn't much older than my kids, just starting college, just starting life, how could he possibly have it figured out?

Here's the message that I want him and you to hear from me today.  

You Don't Have to Figure It All Out Today

Heck, I'm forty-one and am still figuring it out, whatever “it” is. It's crazy how much pressure is on people these days to live up to the things they see posted on social media. Everywhere you look some Instagram, Blogger, or YouTube star is driving a Lamborghini saying this is the life, pay me, and I'll help you get it.

Success is not a Lamborghini

Somehow it seems like the message from society is that if you haven't found the job you're passionate about, have your entire life mapped out, and have loads of money, you've failed. It's not healthy, putting this much pressure on ourselves. Life is about the journey; we shouldn't paint ourselves into some little box where we've succeeded if we checked specific boxes or failed if we didn't.

Even Those Who Appear to Have it All Figured Out Don't

I see the flip side of this from talking to people who from all outward appearances figured “it” out. Some of them millionaires or multi-millionaires, then wake up one day and realize they've missed a lot of the most critical things in life. Think about all the celebrities that you read about having major personal issues.

Some of them are lonely even while surrounded by people. They traded their health for dollars, or maybe sacrificed close relationships for the ideal body or their business. They're stuck, trying to figure out how to keep their business or career moving forward without investing every hour of every day into it. Maybe they dread going to work. Just because someone has a white picket fence, two kids, millions of dollars, or fill in the blank, it doesn't mean that they aren't human and feel the same things that you and I do at times.

Enjoy The Journey

To the young people reading this including my kids who are starting to enter college, my advice is to try a bunch of things and see what you like, and what you don't. Do more of the things you enjoy, and less of those that you don't. To be clear, I'm not talking about illegal things; they're illegal for a reason, those paths rarely lead anywhere good. There are shortcuts like our career counseling where we test people to see which careers they are more likely to be happy with than others, but a large part of life is experimenting to see what works for you.

Learn to enjoy the process, to enjoy the journey. That little dash on our gravestone between our starting and ending dates is the journey. Don't feel like you have to follow a specific path or rush to get to the end. Your path is your path, your journey is your journey, and yours alone. Walk it. Explore the detours. Be inquisitive and learn all you can. Explore through others by asking where paths lead and decide where you want to explore; you won't have time to explore everything, but pick a few and try them out. Do your best, and forget the rest.

About the Author 

Don Smith

Happily married with five kids, Smith owns a technology company, is the founder of this site, has served on the board of directors for multiple companies, and loves playing soccer, hiking, and mentoring.

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