What do you want to do? It was a question that was asked a lot when I was growing, and a lot more so as I neared the end of high school. What would I do next? There were a lot of things that interested me—music, politics, cooking, policing (notice that writing didn’t make the list then)—yet I really had no clue what I wanted to do. But like my older sister, I’d follow ‘the plan’ and go to university because our parents never had that opportunity. So, for five years I went and wandered aimlessly through academia.
What Do You Want to Do?
There’s a lot of pressure for us to figure out what it is we want to do with our life, especially when we’re young. Some people know exactly what they want to do and go after it. Others, myself included, had no idea. Actually, that’s not true. From an early age, I knew I wanted a creative life in some capacity. Artist? Musician? Writer? I wasn’t sure, because I didn’t take the time to reflect on what I was good at or what I could get paid to do. Coming out of high school, there was ‘urgency’ to choose a path and stick with it. To have that safe, stable, nine-to-five job and, ultimately, be happy.
The other issue was that there wasn’t a lot of value placed on a career in the arts. There was a common misconception in my circle of influence (i.e., my family) that all artists we drug addicts and alcoholics, and that was not the path my parents wanted to me take. Music (I played the piano growing up) was good as a hobby but nothing else. The question, “What do you want to do?” became irrelevant.
Figure It Out
Maybe you’re like me and it took you a little longer to figure out exactly what you wanted to do with your life. I was in my late-twenties when I realized I wanted to be a writer, but I let everyone else’s opinion about it stop me from pursuing it wholeheartedly then. So, no matter what stage of life you find yourself in—a job you don’t like, or a desire live a healthier and more active life—take the time to get clarity around what it is you want. The thing is, time keeps moving forward…even if you don’t. Don’t let fear stop you. Don’t let other people’s opinions hold you back.
Yes, figure out what you want to do and do it. There’s no promise of it being easy, or that everything will go according to plan. There will be sacrifices made, along with mistakes. Some days you may not feel like doing what’s required to move your goals forward. But I encourage you to take Rob Dial’s advice from his book, Level Up: How to Get Focused, Stop Procrastinating, and Upgrade Your Life: “When your goal is tied to something bigger and more meaningful in your life, you don’t have to work hard to get up at 5 a.m. or put in overtime. You just do it because you want to achieve the goal and know that it will change your life, and the lives of those you love.” 1
Get up and go change your life.
- Dial, R. (2023). Level Up: How to Get Focused, Stop Procrastinating, and Upgrade Your Life, HarperCollins, New York, p. 62-63.