Finding the Right Idea
So you’ve got it all figured out.
We’re socialized into thinking that we need to have life all figured out from a fairly early age. The pressure’s on to attend college with a direction in mind. We center our lives around studying all there is to know about a particular field; hoping that we will one day make a career of it. For those who seem to be a lucky few, jobs are actually acquired in their field of study. But even then, many of us spend a huge chunk of our lives on an old or undeveloped idea of who we think we want to be; just to find that we don’t actually like the nuances of our particular job as much as we thought we would. You may start to feel a void. You may start to feel like the days just run together. You may even feel stuck, and that you’re bound to those life choices forever.
But you’re not stuck. At least you don’t have to be. Area of study and careers are just a couple areas in which we tend to take an idea and literally run with it, for years of our lives. How can we operate differently? How can we move through life fulfilled, without the pressure of having to decide upon the ‘right’ idea?
There’s no one right idea.
Currently, I’m reading “Designing your life” by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. In chapter 4, they conclude that it’s a dysfunctional belief that a person must find the one right idea. There is no one right idea —and it most definitely won’t be your first idea. They suggest reframing this belief to instead say ‘I need a lot of ideas so that I can explore any number of possibilities for my future.’ When I read this, I had an ‘aha!’ moment, because it signified to me that I am on the right track. As of late, I’ve been dabbling in other interests like creative direction, directing, film, photography, art dealing, etc. And by dabbling, I mean coming up with ways to connect with others and make money —not just taking up new hobbies. But I was starting to feel guilty because I was so excited about these new ideas, that I began to lose steam and interest in my ‘work.’ I was also feeling overwhelmed, because I was starting to take on more responsibility and put more work on myself in areas that were seemingly all over the place. I was starting to feel stuck.
Reframe your thinking. More ideas = more possibilities to explore. It’s never too late to redirect, pivot, or just flat out start over as long as you’re always generating ideas. If you have been feeling stuck, try the following:
Journal/write more: As you engage in work and other activities, jot down how you’re feeling. Are you drained? Was that task engaging? A couple weeks into journaling your activities should give you insight into how you’re spending your time, and on what tasks you actually enjoy doing.
Spend more time being still: The best ideas come to me when I’m in chill mode. Put time aside to just be -whether you meditate, draw, sit outside with a cup of coffee, etc. When you’re not trying to control your thoughts, the right ones show up.
Mind map: Take those activities and thoughts you’ve been journaling, and create a mind map. Jot down a few relevant words that you used often, and let your mind freely write down other words that come to mind. It’s an interesting way to brain dump, and you can end up with some very interesting ideas through this method. Here’s a description on how-to mind map if you’d like to try it.
These are a few of the ways I generate ideas. For the most part, I’m always ready to write something down and explore it. In doing this for myself, I got new ideas about how to connect the dots between the work I’d been doing, and the work I’d become interested in. In fact, it actually all fit together perfectly. Whereas my focus was on consulting and social media marketing strategy development; I am now able to pivot my work more towards the creative. Now, I am putting more resources behind my business as a creative content studio. This allows me to work with creatives and essentially be a project manager and producer for more photography and video based projects. I did not have to abandon my work at all; but was able to reframe it into something that I can enjoy even more.
As you generate more ideas about what your life can be; ask yourself if there is space to incorporate them into the work you are currently doing. If not, can you find ways to transition into a field that allows you to do so? How can you take these ideas and incorporate them into your life in a way that makes you feel more fulfilled?
It’s not easy; but then again, what is?
In no way is it easy to switch up the life path you’ve spent so many years uncovering. However, it is important to recognize that your skills/talents/passion were not given to you to go to waste. Pick up “Designing Your Life” if you are interested in learning more about how you can tweak or totally change things up to live a more fulfilled life. I haven’t finished the book yet, but I’m enjoying it thus far, and have been incorporating some of the ideas immediately to fine-tune some things for myself!