I was idling on the computer one night last week, half watching television and half checking my emails while waiting for my accountability buddies to log on for our weekly Skype session when an old friend who lives overseas sent me a chat message. She asked me when I would be back for a visit. I told her not anytime soon. We exchanged the usual pleasantries - the how are you's and what have you been up to's.
"You doing the Dirty 30s thingy?" she asked. I broke into a laugh. We talked about some of my current projects, our old friends, what they are up to and how her baby boy is doing. The conversation eventually veered towards a question that I have been asked once too often by many of my friends, a question that I have asked myself only too often since I was 24 years old - what am I doing with my life?
She said she had been wondering, thinking about what would satisfy and complete her. I told her that it's a process that everyone needs to go through at some stage, and the process is different for everyone. I suggested that she start with the process of elimination - work out what it is that she does not want to be doing, and then try a few things that she might like to do.
"But trying takes time," she replied. "Are we going to go groping around? Until when?"
"Until you find it," was my reply. I told her that it's not always a straight path. And sometimes it could be something that she already knew, but have yet to fully accept.
She said she needed to rethink, that she does not want to be sixty and think to herself that she should've done this or that.
"Why don't you start there?" I suggested. "By the time you are sixty, what would you have wanted to have done?"
She told me that she needed to think about that. I laughed and said, "Just don't get analysis paralysis." And I meant it. We talked a little bit more before she told me she had to go. It was also almost time for my accountability group meeting so we finished up and bade each other goodbye.
After that night, I thought about the many conversations I've had with several of my friends - conversations that centered around what each of us wanted to do with our lives, what would make us happy, what the ideal job or work would be. Each time someone asks me, "What should I do with my life?" I always respond by asking them, "What do you like to do?" It was a question that many have no answer to.
Very often, the conversation leaves them walking away with more questions, feeling more puzzled and frustrated than they were before. Even more often, I would remind them that the answer may not always be clear cut, that sometimes they may have to make a few wrong turns before getting on the right path. I can only say that because it is true for me.
As I reflected on those conversations, I realized that the only reason why I was closer to my truth than they were was because I have gone through my fair share of trial and error. And I too, have invested more time and money in working on myself. It was a process that took several years, several ventures all done in my spare time, many books, a number of personal development seminars, and many more hours of self reflection. To this day, it is still a process that continues on. But it all began with self awareness.
Each time when I was being asked that question, I did not feel that I was the authority to tell the person who was asking it how to find his or her answer. I did not feel that I could give any of them the answers that they were looking for. I can only tell them my own experience, how they use it is entirely up to them. Their personal legend was something they had to discover on their own, in their own time.
If life is the way it is, the 'doing' is probably something that would change and evolve as we grow anyway. Sure, I have some idea about what I want to do with my life right now, but who I am to say that that might not change further down the track? Who I am to say that this time next year I would still be doing the same thing? I don't know for sure. But I do know that I have a mission, I have an outcome in mind, an end goal that I'm working towards. And if the path that leads me there needs to go through a few twists and turns, so be it.
If there is one thing that I know to be true, it is that seeking certainty is not necessarily the same as seeking clarity. In fact, my clarity was to be found in being comfortable with living in uncertainty. Tony Robbins once said, "If you aim for certainty in life and miss it, you score no points. The quality of your life is in direct proportion to the amount of uncertainty you can comfortably live with."
It was not always a lesson that was easy to digest. It was not an answer that I was willing to accept. I was a certainty freak, so it took me a while to be able to come to terms that in order for me to be free, I must be willing to let go of my fear of uncertainty and embrace the wonders that come with it. It took me a while more to find the courage to make that leap, trusting that there was a higher power - an all-knowing, all-seeing power - that was looking out for me, even if I didn't know what I was going to face around the next corner.
So, if you ask me what you should do with your life, all I can tell you is that you already have the answer inside you. You just need to peel off the layers that are covering it. These layers might be past programming, conditioning, other people's beliefs and expectations, your own beliefs and expectations, denial even.
Start by being more aware, more conscious and more attuned to who you are, to what is important to you and what makes you get out of bed every morning. Focus instead on what you want to leave behind, rather than what you should be doing. And by all means, don't believe anything that I have said here because only you get to decide how to find your personal legend and what it should be.
Copyright © 2011 Chiao Kee Lim
"Chiao Kee Lim is the owner of the copyright to this work. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any for or by any means without the prior written permission of the author, nor be otherwise circulated in any form other than that in which it is published. Any reproduction, amendments, edits and/or re-posting on any other medium apart from those authorized by the author will be dealt with under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act."
She is a passionate student of personal development who started her journey in 2007 learning from world experts such as Tony Robbins, Bob Proctor, T. Harv Eker and Blair Singer in the areas of personal growth and
the psychology of peak potentials. She is a voracious reader and an avid blogger. She lives in Melbourne, Australia and is currently working on a new book, "What My Mother Never Taught Me - The 7 Things I Wish I Had Known About Finding Happiness" which is due to be completed in 2011.|
Read more about Chiao at her website: www.thedirty30sclub.com
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