A Journey Without a Destination
As much as we would like to believe that life’s a journey, not a destination, I can’t help but think that life is a series of pit stops. A series of destinations, if you’d like. For I feel going down this journey to a final destination, not knowing where you’re going, can just lead you nowhere.
I’ve always believed in goals or at least knowing with a fair bit of confidence, where I’m going. I may not reach the exact place, but I’ll get to the vicinity. The last couple of years has made me realize what life can be like if you’re not taking a hard look at the future and your goals. It’s not the Covid effect. In fact, this started much before Covid was even unleashed unto the world. This all started from a feeling of wanting to do more. Isn’t that how all great journeys start?
So, I decided that I wanted to do more with my life, like the millions of people out there. I decided I wanted to add value to people and their work. It wasn’t about getting rich, although I’ll admit making money was also part of the plan. Why bother doing anything if you’re not making money out of it?
We can all say that I don’t write for the money or I’m not looking at how much money I’m going to make. I’m doing it because I want to help people. And I’m not doubting that you do. I’m not doubting for a second that you want to help people with your writing and your work. But, I’m pretty sure making money is also at the back of our minds. As it should be.
Money is a Great Motivator
When I started my own business, I started to do a lot of free work. I felt like I needed to invest my time creating value for people before I could actually get paid. Some of the work I did was rewarding. I learned things and I helped people. But, for the most part, I lost interest in projects when I knew that I wasn’t going to get paid.
There’s nothing wrong with working pro bono if it’s for a good cause. I was ready to help companies who couldn’t pay me, but I ended up helping companies who didn’t pay me. Eventually, I lost interest in doing any work companies like this because I realized that money is a great motivator. Getting paid for work that you do, is an important part of delivering your best work. The truth is there has to be a purpose to the work you do.
If you’re doing pro bono work, then there has to be some higher cause for it. You want to know that you’re actually helping someone and doing good. Not just working for free without the hope of anything in return.
Choosing the Wrong Goals
I had goals when I started out. What I didn’t realize was that not all the goals were the right ones. When you’re staring at the road ahead and making plans for the future, how do you know that the goals you’ve chosen are the right ones. Sure you can have the larger, more abstract goals of being rich, having a happy life, owning a home. But, what about all the little milestones that you need to achieve to get there. How do you even know whether the path you’re choosing is the right one? The simple answer is that you don’t.
This is why checking in and re-evaluating your goals is important. You can still end up with some wrong goals just as I did but, chances are you’ll at least know before it’s too late. So every once in a while, it’s important to check in. One of the biggest reasons we avoid checking in with our goals is the fear that we’re falling behind. Sometimes we think if we choose to ignore the problem, it will magically disappear. Sadly, it doesn’t happen. Trust me, I know. All too often, I’ve avoided confronting mistakes I’ve made or figuring out how far I’ve strayed, only to realize that it doesn’t change anything. So, I learned to bite the bullet, and confront my issues regardless of how poorly my achievements stacked up.
There’s No Time Like the Present
This is a good one. Deferring. We love to defer everything. It’s odd really. Because we live in a time of instant gratification. We are all looking for ways to make the present work, hoping that things will somehow work out in the future. We take loans, build up debt, with the hope that somehow, someway, we will have bucket loads of money in the future to settle those debts. And it’s all well and good until the music stops.
One day, it hits us. We’re no better off today, than we were say five years ago and all we’ve been doing is kicking the can forward. Tomorrow will be a better day to write the article, I’ll get started on my goals next week, I’ll find a way to build a second source of income next month. The next day comes, so does the next week and the next months. Yet you’re no closer to writing that article or working on your goals.
Again, it all comes back to the fear of failure. We’re afraid that if we start working on our goals tomorrow, we have to actually follow through. And once we do follow through, what if we don’t make it. The truth is, you may not make it. And that’s okay. But, letting the fear get the better of you to rob you of your present and your future is not okay. I’ve been meaning to do a lot of things in my life, and someday I will get around to doing them. That someday, has to start now. Because if you fail, it’s better to fail early and move on to the next thing than build up your hopes and realize too late that what you’ve decided to do is not for you.
I was sure I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life. I was sure of the path that I was going to take and all the successes I was going to achieve. Yet, somewhere along the way I made some bad calls and I’m way off the beaten path. It’s not that I took the wrong path, I just strayed far, far from it.
As I reach a milestone birthday, I’ve realized that I’m very close to having a mid-life crisis with absolutely no idea of where I want to go next or how to get back to the path I was taking. All I know is I haven’t been entirely happy with what I was doing and it’s time to make a change.
This year has taught us a number of things. Firstly, you can hit the pause button and choose to come back stronger. Secondly, life can be fragile but it’s still determined to a large extent by the choices you make. And finally, it’s hard to change your life and turn it around but, it’s even harder to go down the wrong road and be unhappy.