And how do you get on track?
Everyone has been here: you’re either standing in front of the mirror at the bathroom sink or sat at the edge of the bed after a shower, contemplating the state of affairs that comprise of your life. Head in hands, you ask yourself what the hell you’re doing, because for whatever reason, you feel like you’re lost. More often than not, we come to this conclusion with our jobs, our marriages, our debt and our health, and they usually come because we’re so far off course of where we should be that we don’t even recognise where we are or how we got there.
Why do we ignore every single red flag along the way? By the time you’re 30, you’ve had at least one toxic relationship or friendship that you can look back on for this question. How did you see every red flag that popped up and just go “nahhhhh, that’s not a red flag, that’s a white tissue?!” Why do we ignore the signs that our instincts and intuition tell us is bad for us? How do we get ourselves in positions where we’re asking ourselves how we got here because we do not recognise the location nor the vehicle we travelled in?
I have a very distinct issue: I have an annual existential crisis. This can be a very positive and powerful thing or an incredibly destructive and depression-inciting experience; but whether I like it or not, it helps me stay on track with what I want from my life. By having to review my life every year at least once, I can say that life evaluations have become a strong skillset that keeps me on the straight and narrow, even when I feel like I’m not. One could say that I’m now a pro at this.
Are you happy?
Does your life have meaning and purpose?
Are you doing what makes you happy?
Do you know exactly what you’re doing with your life?
These are some of the questions I find myself asking in the dead of night, or at the end of the bed, after a shower with eyes glazed and a blank stare into the abyss that is crisis.
How does one deal with the existential crisis of life?
Well it is quite simple really, the initial part at least. The hard part is the actual doing but we’ll get to that soon… Think about where you want to be in ten years. Really add in the details of your life; clothes, car, living situation, relationship status, lifestyle – everything. Now think about what you would be doing. Some people would be an executive member for a large company, some would be running their own show.
Write down what impact you want on the world; and it’s absolutely fine if you don’t give a shit about global climate crisis or world hunger (I believe that it’s more important to be honest with yourself than say what you think other people want to hear – I don’t think celebrities, in general, genuinely care, else they’d do more like Marcus Rashford has). Be honest about what you consider to be a fulfilled life. If that’s 100% material for you, that’s fine. Likewise, if a fulfilled life for you means 100% bleeding heart causes that you have contributed to, that’s also fine. And a mix of the two is also fine. The point is, it’s all fine as long as you’re being honest.
So you’ve illustrated what you want your life to be like and what you would consider a fulfilled life: your aspirational lifestyle and impact are done. Now it’s time to look at your skills: what do you like doing? It doesn’t have to be your current career, but it should be a list of skills and talents that you’re good at and that you enjoy. You can also put things that you want to do on this list, such as languages or creative outlets.
Now that you have these three lists, it’s time to work backwards. Using your impact and talents lists, look at the possibilities of how you could use items on these lists to make a career or life. Can you grow into some of these options? How happy would it make you feel to do these? Are they hard to break into or is the challenge going to be worth it? Can you build that lifestyle using one or more things on this list?
Time to roll up the sleeves
Building the life you want means knowing what life you really want in the first place – and that’s the hardest question that you need to answer, and it must be truthful. You have to be honest with yourself, at least privately, so that you can build the life that you want deep down. If you want to be a fashionista and don’t give a toss about starving kids across the world, do that. Don’t wear it like a badge of honour, but live your life in the way that you want to, free of the guilt and burden of someone else’s dream.
The hardest part of this process is the actual doing. Now that you know what you want, and how to get it, it’s work time. Put your head down and make a plan. Milestones, timelines, goals. Things that you need to achieve. Write it all down and put it into action. Keep yourself accountable, because everyone will pull you away from your goals if you’re not truly committed to them. At the end of the day, you have to live your own life. And you can. You have the power to change everything, and do it all yourself, by your own rules. So, roll up those sleeves and get to work!