How to Get Where You Want To Go In Life
If you have no idea what you want in this life, you will not achieve anything other than following along with whatever shows up in front of you each day, or whatever everyone else tells you to do. If you don't want that for yourself, read on...
"Would you please tell me which way I ought to walk from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where--” said Alice
“Then it doesn’t matter which way to walk.” said the Cat
From Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Do you know where you are going in life?
Have you ever really thought about it?
Sure, we set goals, and have a daily plan that helps us achieve them, but to what end?
What do we really want out of this life?
Sean Covey, in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens lists as his number two essential habit “Begin with the end in mind: Control your destiny or someone else will.”
Why is this habit essential? Well, if you don’t really know where you are going, how do you effectively make decisions about what to do with your life? And, if you don’t make the decisions, someone else will.
Do you want to risk the outcome of YOUR life on someone else's decision making?
Yet, we hesitate and even delay making the effort to develop a clear vision of what we really want. Why do we do this? I believe it has a lot to do with being afraid. We are afraid that what we want won’t happen. We are afraid that what we want won’t be accepted. We are even afraid we won’t be able to live up to what we want.
That’s a lot of fear based on nothing more than “what if…?” scenarios.
What's equally true is the opposite:
What if... what we want does happen?
What if... what we want is acceptable?
What if... what we want we can achieve?
Whenever I was struggling to believe I was capable of pursuing an idea or dream, or overcome an obstacle, my mom would quote her favorite saying:
”Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you're right.”
Go back and read that again.
What you BELIEVE directs your choices and reactions.
If you believe you can’t, or won’t, achieve something you won’t put much effort into trying to achieve it.
If you believe you can or will, you will make it a priority for your energy, time, and finances in order to achieve it.
This, I have found, is a universal truth for everyone.
If you believe you can get yourself out of poverty, you will find a way to do it.
If you believe you can play sports at the next level, you will find a way to do it.
If you believe you can change the world, you will find a way to do it.
But, if you have no idea what you want in this life, you will not achieve anything other than following along with whatever shows up in front of you each day, or whatever everyone else tells you to do.
Do you want that? I didn’t think so.
It doesn’t matter how old you are as you are reading this. It doesn't matter what time of year it is or even what day of the week. Today is a new day and you can start now to build the life you really want. Here’s how:
Decide whether you want to be in control of your future or not. I’m serious. Do you really want to be in control of your life? Do you want to be responsible for seeking out the information you will need to make informed choices? Are you willing to put in the effort it will take to stand up for your dreams?
Decide whose opinion of your choices really matters. We live in a culture that cancels what it doesn’t think belongs, forcing a level of conformity that is toxic. Unless we choose intentionally who we will seek advice from and who’s influence we want to adopt, we will be subjected to the whims of our current culture, whatever it may be at any given time.
Make space to dream and visualize what you really want out of your life. We prioritize what matters most to us. If you are serious about creating a vision you find the time to create one. It doesn't have to be today, but you do need to commit to making the time by adding it to whatever schedule you currently have before something else gets scheduled instead, and then protect it as a valuable use of your time because it is.
Work backwards and build a plan to get there. A vision of your future is the starting point, getting there is the journey that needs to be created. What do you need to do to achieve the vision? What steps do you need to take? What finances will you need to invest? How will you secure that money? What changes to your schedule do you need to make? These are questions you will need to ask yourself in order to make a plan that gets you where you want to go.
Re-evaluate often. What we are determined to do today to achieve the vision may shift as we take our first steps. That is to be expected as we cannot see every roadblock, obstacle, or success from where we stand today. Re-evaluating doesn’t mean giving up when it gets hard though. It means looking for another way to bring your vision to life.
Here’s an example:
Susan*, a 16 year-old, decided she wanted to be in control of her destiny, identified who she wanted to share her vision with, and then took the time to create a vision of a future she really wanted for herself.
She decided she wanted to become a forensic accountant who worked for the government so that she could uncover corruption in corporations and be a part of bringing justice to those who abused the system. She visualized herself living in an apartment in downtown Chicago, because that is where, “Corruption exists and it's a cool city.” She also visualized being a certified yoga instructor because it would help her “pay for my education and keep me fit, and I love it and can’t imagine any part of my life without it.”
Satisfied and excited with her vision she went to work to determine how to turn it into a reality. She researched the education and training she would need to become a forensic accountant, looked at the different types of programs, analyzed her own budget, sought the advice of her parents, and chose a program to apply to.
She also approached her yoga instructor about how to get certified and followed her instructions for practice and enrolling in a certification course.
To pay for her yoga certification she decided to get a part-time job and save up for it.
To be able to accommodate her part-time work and her certification process, she built a weekly schedule that included time for her studies, her certification course, and her job and then added in time for her friends and club activities, which she has found she has plenty of time for.
She is now actively pursuing her vision and is making choices for how to use her time and money based on that vision.
(* not her real name)
Only you can create the life you want. It's worth the time and effort to figure out what that is and build a plan to get there.
I know it's not easy to do this on your own though. That's why I have created a free resource to help you do it.
Don’t want to do this alone? Check out the custom post-graduation planning experiences I offer for teens and educators.