I’m lost with no goals and dreams
Ever feel like you’re wandering aimlessly through life?
Like you’re piece of driftwood floating on an endless sea, with no shore in sight.
Nothing seems to excite or inspire you.
Everything you do feels trite and boring. You live a humdrum existence, a life of “quiet desperation”.
Every day the same cycle repeats.
As the days pass, you just feel more and more lost.
At some level, we are all lost
Life is strange.
We were born and put on this earth, ostensibly through no choice of our own. Our parents decided they wanted a family and out we popped from the womb.
Then we were sent to school where we learned trigonometry and present perfect tense and photosynthesis, but we never learned about life.
We never learned what we were supposed to do with our lives, what makes life worth living, and how to live in such a way as to make our lives count.
Are we really meant to be like rabbits? Eat, shit, sleep, give birth to more baby rabbits to perpetuate the cycle?
Life was meant for much more than that.
You are meant for much more than that.
You are a glorious human being.
Don’t you know your own infinite potential?
We all want something
You aren’t really aimless. It’s not that you don’t have dreams.
We all want something.
Imagine that right now there is an all-powerful genie in front of you. This genie can grant you any wish you want.
What would you wish for?
Lasting inner peace?
A lifetime of adventure?
You do want something. Whether it is to be successful, rich, famous, happy, loved, accepted, appreciated, understood, recognised, approved, or whatever it is.
And yet we tell ourselves all the time that we don’t know what we want.
Why would we do that?
Why you are lost
1. Not getting what you really want.
When I was a banker I thought I had it all. I made it! I achieved, got the prestigious job, lived in New York. But I still wasn’t happy. I realised it was because what I really wanted wasn’t the money and the job. It was just for my mum to be proud of me. Sometimes we are so busy chasing the symbols and titles (a better job, a bigger house, a car, more money, a promotion) that we forgot what it was really for. Even if we have a successful business or a big house, we forgot about the true meaning behind the goal.
2. You don’t know how to get where you wanna go.
Sometimes you may know what you want — for example, you know that you want to make a difference to people. But you may not know how. You could be a counselor, a social worker, a nurse, a coach, an entrepreneur. Which one suits you the best? Perhaps you only have an inkling of what you really want. Like, you know you want a career that you can progress in. But you don’t exactly know what career that is. So you kind of have a direction, but the path ahead is unclear.
3. You don’t believe in your dream.
Somewhere inside you, you do not believe your dream is attainable. I once had a friend who wanted to be an artist. But her mother told her that artists don’t make any money, and that she should be something else. So she was lost for many years, trying to find out what that ‘something else’ was. Eventually, she came back to being an artist. When our dreams are not socially-approved, we suppress them. Other people’s approval became more important than our dreams.
4. You gave up on your dream.
Perhaps you started out on a certain path. And then the path got too difficult. You met with failures. You started to doubt yourself. Maybe this isn’t the path for you. You feel you’re not good enough and that you don’t deserve it. So you gave up and moved onto another thing. You keep moving from one thing to another, like a rolling stone that gathers no moss. Instead of building one large sandcastle, you have many little piles of sand.
5. Too many choices.
Many possibilities lie in front of you. You can do anything you want. You face a wide open space, a blank canvas. See, if you didn’t have any choice, you wouldn’t be lost. A quarter-life crisis is a luxury. You wouldn’t get the chance to ask yourself what you really wanted if you had to struggle for survival every day. When we have too many choices, we face the paradox of choice. This is where we have too many options and get stuck. We cannot choose. So we feel lost.
How to un-lost yourself
1. Ask yourself what you really, truly want.
If time and money didn’t matter, what would you do? If you could have anything in the world, what would you do? If you were universally loved and accepted, what would you do? If you didn’t care what anybody else thinks, what would you want? What do you truly desire from the bottom of your heart? What would you do for free, even if nobody paid you anything?
2. Do what you fear the most.
As Joseph Campbell said, the cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek. Oftentimes, that which we fear and avoid the most is that which we want the most. For example, people who fear intimacy avoid people. But what they truly want is a deep connection with another person. For me, I recently put up marketing for a writing workshop. I had procrastinated so much on it because I feared that people would judge me and reject me and nobody would be interested. But when I finally put it up, someone actually responded. And that gave me such a huge surge of happiness and excitement. Look your fear in the eye. And do the thing anyway. Face your fears with courage.
3. Do what sparks joy.
I’m borrowing Marie Kondo’s phrase here, because I think it is such a great way to make important decisions. Doing what sparks joy awakens the life force deep within you. When you feel joyful, it is life’s way of telling you you’re on the right path. When I say joy, I mean that warm, uplifting, floaty feeling of pure joy. I do not refer to the momentary relief we get from alcohol or the high we get from caffeine. Do not distract yourself with fake comforts like shopping or food. Do that which truly touches your soul and ignites that flame in your heart.
4. Persevere til the very end.
If you’re already on your way and have a goal in mind, keep going. No matter what life throws at you, keep walking on the path until the very end. You will only feel a sense of completion and taste success if you keep going. Not if you give up half way. Hold onto your dreams and never let them go.
5. Do something.
Some people stare at the many options in front of them and freeze. They want to know for sure that they make the ‘right’ choice. They analyse to death and remain in their heads. After they consider all the options, they still cannot choose. So they remain lost. You’re not going to find out anything by staying still. You only gain clarity by doing. Even if it were a ‘wrong’ move, you still would have progressed, because you would have found out that’s not what you want. So do something. Anything. Any action is better than no action. Just go out there, experience and explore. You need to find out for yourself. Other people can’t give you the answer.
Originally published at https://www.betterself.sg on July 15, 2019.