What Should I Do With My Life?
In the bestselling book by Po Bronson, What Should I Do With My Life?, the author takes his readers on an interesting journey to answer the book titles question. He does this by imbedding himself in the lives of several people across the U.S. who, in one form or another, answered the elusive question posed. Some planned for a shift, while others stumbled into a new way of being and seem happier than those who planned. No matter how they got there, the point is, they eventually got there.
College student? Unemployed grad? Underemployed and miserable? This book might awaken possibilities for you.
Change in Hard Times
Mr. Bronson points out what he learned in hard times, people usually changed the course of their life. However, in good times, they frequently only talked about change. Considering those out of work not only in the U.S., but around the world, there are literally tens of millions of people trying to figure out what to do next. So, dont feel alone.
Why is it that we postpone making changes? Psychologists point out humans hate change, yet change is a major part of life. Forced into making changes, people often discover themselves in better situations. But the operative word here is forced. Through lay-offs, recessions, post-recessions and possible double-dip recessions, people bounce back through the changes they make.
Give Yourself Permission
I found that the biggest obstacle to answering the question this book poses is that people dont give themselves permission to take it seriously, states Mr. Bronson. Why? The bottom line is the big F word
fear. And fear can be so intimidating that people would rather stay stuck in that miserable place than initiate a change.
When we stand face to face with our fears, its only then we can see how unreasonable they really arebut it takes courage. For example, lets say you have an opportunity to relocate for a great job, youve done research (see my posts here on relocation), spent enough time exploring the possibilities, but it feels safer to stay put. In the back of your mind, you know passing up this opportunity will be a bone of contention from now onthe what if? scenario. Yet you refuse to give yourself permission to take a leap of faith beyond your fears. As one of the books first interviewees states, Fear is like a wound within our emotions. He suggests that we first acknowledge it exists and then find out what kind of fear it is: Is it fear of poverty, of loneliness, of rejection?
Do you have fears you havent yet faced? Right now, take a moment to ask yourself what your greatest fears are and if they are unreasonable.
Purpose Revealed or Discovered
The book touches on the idea of revealed or discovered destiny. A percentage may think the easy answer would be a revealed path for the future by a “Higher Power” (or God), others prefer the idea of discovering on their own a new route in life. I know people who have done both. No matter your perspective, whats important is something somewhat tangible has been laid at your feet.
The $65,000 question today is: What will you do with it? Pretend it doesnt exist, pronounce it too difficult to execute, or hold your breath and jump off the high dive into a new life? Ive taken a my share of high dives, most often for a long while I was paddling as fast as I could to keep my head above water. But then, I got out of the deep end and pulled myself up. You cant buy a feeling like that!
Day Job Philosophy
There are many people living the Day Job Philosophy. They find a field, stick with it come Hell or high wateroften both, they endure an existence they hate day after day. Im sure if you asked them, theyd say they were fine and cant understand why anyone would want to examine their life, or follow a dream. But, as Mr. Bronson puts it, The goal is to bring what you do in alignment with who you are, so you dont end up being someone you dont want to be.
One particular interviewee in the book was constantly trying to prove his worth by pleasing others, measuring his worth through their expectations. He wasnt pursuing his purpose, he was a “people-pleaser”. Thats no way to live. We have to recognize people-pleasing behavior before it chokes the life out of our true purpose. You cant be someone else, you have to be you. And if that means walking away from a six-figure income with major perks, so be it, money isnt everything. But satisfaction from having pursued a genuine purpose is everything.
Call it Whatever
Whether you call it your purpose, path in life, new direction, God-given role, or career direction, isnt important. Its what you initiate that is. Taking the first step by putting one foot in front of the other until you get there, wherever there is, is the formula.
Heres the good news: being smart, rich, thin, young or blond doesnt make the journey any easier! And with that Ill leave you with two words from Mr. Bronsons chapter at the end of the bookpatience and resiliencethe life jackets youll need when you jump off the high dive.
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