In my apartment, the fridge was only a few steps away from the couch, but it feels like a marathon to someone that has no particular interest for anything. That person was me, I spent my first fifteen years in a mental wasteland, not sure what program to watch, inventorying the snacks left in my closet. Expecting something exciting that never came.
Living without a purpose seems comfortable at first sight, but in the long run it feeds a crippling form of depression and anxiety.
Not only that, but it limits your life to a “default template”, a shallow and repetitive movie featuring your own boredom, your secret fears and your lack of generosity.
On the other hand, if you define a direction for yourself, no matter how unconventional, the perks are limitless, let me name a few:
- Waking up like a spring out of its box
- Feeling creative and passionate when everybody else is depressed
- Being a bulldozer all day: having the juice to make things happen anytime
- Simplicity: no need for complex productivity tools when you’ve found your dope
- Communicating clearly about your projects and making your ideals viral
That mindset allowed me to learn Tibetan and become interpreter in 4 years, graduating at university from home and land a permanent sales job in the IT with a Resume that read “spent the last ten years as a Buddhist monk”, I’m confident this approach will work for you too.
If you’re interested, try it for yourself:
Write down a list of the ten things you’re most unhappy with (lack of money, no friends, not enough creative activities…).
Don’t be shy: no one’s watching, the list can include EVERYTHING you hate about your life, including your breath or your alcoholic neighbor.
Dissatisfaction is your starting point, you might not be clear about what you want, but you’ve already had the guts to face the dark side of your life right now. Change is a step away.
Using the list of frustrations you just wrote, find their opposites:
- Financial scarcity VS a six figure income that lets you travel anywhere, anytime
- A boring job VS living off of a world changing project
- A one bedroom apartment VS your own atoll
Gradually expand from the negative values (what you hate) to their positive counterpart (what you’d love instead), make it a creative process, there are no limits, you’re free to imagine anything you’d like regardless of current circumstances. Your age, your gender, your level of wealth, all that doesn’t matter.
Remember: you’re starting from scratch, anything is possible at this stage.
Do that in your head first, no rush. Just day dream.
Now jot down:
- What objects/things you’d love to have? (an eco-friendly house in California, a private chocolate fountain).
- Who would you like to become if you couldn’t fail? (a professional writer, a lawyer or a carpenter building hobbits houses).
Let your pen run on the paper without controlling the process, your mind will spurt the wildest answers. Don’t refrain yourself. Also keep in mind that it doesn’t matter how you’re going to make these dreams happen, focus on what you could do if you could not fail.
Now sort what you really want in your draft: coming up with list of ten items for each is a great start.
Time to bind all these dreams together, imagine how insanely cool your life would be if all your list came true: what if you actually were a professional writer, living in an eco-friendly mansion in California with the nice option to get unlimited hot chocolate at your fountain every time you want?
Think of the consequences for your social life, what new connections would you make? How could you support your parents, your current friends?
Make it real enough, draw it, write about it. I’m very visual so I like to design graphics to represent all my goals in a single picture, here’s one of them:
Review your list of dreams in hand, and determine for each of them:
- The steps you’re willing to make to get there – changing career means investigating online about your potential dream job, then confronting it with what skills you’ll need to train.
- The daily habits you’re going to implement – becoming a writer means writing half an hour everyday minimum.
- The timeframe for each goal with a clear and measurable result: “I want to publish my first successful novel in five years”.
I recommend you five years to finalize any project, it’s a reasonable timeframe for anything meaningful.
Your purpose will evolve, I encourage you to refresh your list regularly and add as many details as you can. But what’s for sure is that now you know where you’re going, it’s like wearing a necklace of garlic against depression.
There are millions of other goal setting methods out there, far more elaborate than this sketch-post, so if you already feel you want to take your projects to the next step, you’ll find inspiration in Tony Robbins books and Steve Pavlina’s impressive work on that topic
Finally, remember that we tend to overestimate what we can do in one year and largely underestimate what can be accomplished in a decade, a decade is a short time…
It’s up to you to start a life for which you give a damn, and I know that your couch is not far, but I’m sure it’s looking at you like it’s losing a customer right now :)