What do I want to accomplish from this project? Why do I want to apply this technique? Where do I see this business in 5 years? How do I make that happen? When will I start working? Questions I ask myself frequently as I work on different projects, until I get lost. All of a sudden, I feel like I’m in the middle of a void space. I’m no where. What am I doing with my life? Why am I in this again? Where exactly am I going?
I wish it was as easy as when I was in elementary school. “What do you want to become?”
– “An engineer, like my father!”
As I grew up, that question became the most frightening thing anyone could ask me.
– What do you mean by what do I want to become? Gees, I don’t know.. I guess I haven’t had the time to think about that yet. Do I still want to become an engineer and join the club that already has a billion people? Work in the same job for 40 years? Won’t that be boring? Wouldn’t I be pretty much a replica of someone else?
I only have one life. In a best case scenario, I already wasted 30% of it growing up.
– When will I actually know what I want to be? Will I have enough time to achieve it?
These questions have always haunted me, putting me in some states of depression.
I think I’m passionate, but I’m not sure what about. I’m working on great things, but I don’t know where they will take me. I’m getting some good opportunities, but their outcomes are not shaping me.
“I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m on my way”.
I was working so hard on building my business plan, learning from every resource I could lay my hands on, until I fell into one of these states again. One of the books I was listening to in my car said something that triggered it. After talking about business plans for quite a while, the author mentioned a thing I’ve never heard of; a life plan.
– A what you say? Who needs that?
In simple words, he said that if you don’t have a life plan, then you sure as hell shouldn’t be making a business plan.
– Ouch, that’s a bit harsh now isn’t it? So you say if I have no idea where I want to go with my life, or what I want to be in 5 years, then I shouldn’t start a business?
Okay, when put this way, it does make some sense. It would make all the difference in the world if in 5 years you see yourself making a living out of your business and happily married with 2 kids, or if you see yourself driving a Bentley to your city centre 42nd floor office to meet a couple of startups that are pitching for you to invest in.
It might sound stupid to us that a man spends most of his money on bungee jumping.
– Isn’t he an idiot?
Well, what if he wants to become a great stunt man?
A woman spending 12 hours a day in the kitchen?
– Wow, talk about lifelessness!
But what if she aspires to become a world class chef? Isn’t that the right thing to do for her case?
If you have a vision for yourself, then you will definitely know what you should do.
– But how do I get this vision for myself? I mean, I’m clueless.
I have obsessed over my life plan for over a year now, trying to analyse what I’m doing, and trying to predict where that will take me to see if I want it or not.
– Should I proceed with this project? Should I take this job?
I was clueless because I was overthinking. I was overthinking because I was looking at the short run, not bearing in mind that in a year, I will be a different person around different people with different opportunities. However, I knew what I wanted to become in the long run, after a year of studying myself. It might have not been clear, but I was sure that the fog will vanish and it will get shaped over time. I had the vision, but I couldn’t see it because I was worried about what I will do tomorrow or next week.
So back to that question: how do I get that vision?
The answer relies on 1 word: dream. I know, it might sound cheesy, but really, dream.
This is something we’re not taught in school. Not by our parents, nor the society. In fact, most people don’t dream, which is caused by the mass production education process.
The definition of envisioning, is to imagine a possible future. Look at successful people around you. Pick your favorite. Do you want to be as successful as he/she is? Or do you want to be less or more successful? Or do you want to be as successful, but in another field or country? Do you really want it? Why do you want it? How can you be different? By asking yourself this kind of questions, and then imagining youself there, you will start shaping that vision. Deep down, you already have some idea on what you want to be, and it will be triggered based on your dream.
Just like any business plan, there is no way everything stated will happen.
You predicted a 5 year income statement? You’ll be lucky if you got 5 months of your predictions anywhere near right. You might pivot, build a new product, seek another market, all in all, while still slowly reaching the main objective. In business, your objective may be becoming the leading company in a certain market, or providing the top quality for a certain product. Whatever it is, you will keep trying to achieve these goals regardless of what happens in the short run. As long as you have the vision, you will not stop.
I guess what I’m trying to say here is that you don’t necessarily have to have a studied plan for your life. As long as you have and keep the vision that defines what you see yourself doing in the future, as vivid as it may seem, then whatever you’ll be doing will get you there.
The time factor depends on when you see it happening, and the position you are at right now. No other factors, no excuses.
Bottom line: Don’t plan your life, plan experiences that complement your vision.
I really believe that each one of us should think about it for a minute. It might turn into a year -like in my case-, but once you know what you truly want to become, you will have an outline of your life that will make you happier. I promise.
“If you don’t know where you are going, every road will get you nowhere.”