“Every morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.” — Siddhārtha Gautama
I think we’ve all hit a point in our lives when we realize that our life isn’t the way we want it to be.
Have you? Have you ever wondered, “what am I doing with my life?”
Usually this happens because we coast through some parts of our life, and without realizing it, end up in situations that leave us feeling unsatisfied.
I’m not talking about depression (though this can turn into depression). The feeling is more like a lack of excitement about what you’re doing with your life that manifests itself as a strong dissatisfaction. Life becomes stale. You just feel like your wasting your time, like there are better things out there for you that you just haven’t found. You don’t really know what these things are or how to get them, but you know they exist.
The problem is that you’re afraid to shake things up because you don’t want to ruin what you already have for something that’s unknown.
The Roller Coaster of Life
Life happens…fast (especially in a haze of drinking and partying that is college). And when times are good, you can’t imagine living any other way. You feel like you’ve figured it out, but eventually good times turn to bad times for no particular reason. It’s because we live in a world of constant change. Life is a roller coaster.
The key to living life is embracing this concept of constant change. It’s knowing that good times are fleeting and so are bad. It’s learning how to appreciate the good times without becoming attached to them and being able to learn from the bad times without getting discouraged. It’s about being comfortable with change and being okay with reinventing yourself if you need to.
I know when I first graduated college and started my job, I was still living the college life, partying 4 nights a week. I would look at coworkers who were just a couple years older than me with complete disgust. They seemed so…lame, no party left in them, just boring. I knew I would never be that way.
Well, within a few years, the endless party got old. It started to feel stale and unsatisfying.
What I now realize is that my coworkers weren’t lame, and I wasn’t lame either. We were just at different points in our life’s journey. Eventually I came to the point in my life where I realized that getting drunk all the time wasn’t for me anymore, that I was more stimulated by other activities. And so, I embraced the change.
Embracing change, learning to flow
“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said today.—‘Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’—Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
When you get to a point in life where you feel this way, remind yourself that you should be happy that you feel dissatisfied.
Dissatisfaction means you’re ready for something new. It means that life is about to get a lot more interesting. The feeling of dissatisfaction is meant to be a driving force, urging you to evolve, to change for the better. Becoming aware of that feeling is the first step to any meaningful change in your life.
So be thankful for your current dissatisfaction. Embrace it and start to question aspects of your current life so that you can find the root of the dissatisfaction. Use the negative feelings as motivation to dream up what you really want in your life, and start finding ways to get it.
Life is about growth and change. It’s about reinventing yourself over and over again as you learn more about who you are and who you want to be. It’s not unusual and though it can be intimidating, it’s nothing to be afraid of.
Hurdles to Living the Life You Really Want
Overcoming the fear of the unknown – For me, this used to be the hardest part about changing. Being afraid of the unknown comes from being attached to impermanent things in your life and allowing yourself to feel a false sense of security in those things. I’m talking about money, a job, a friendship, a relationship, etc. To prevent yourself from doing this, you need to build up a self confidence and sense self worth that isn’t tied to external dependencies. You need to know that regardless of life’s situations that you are capable of dealing with them.
Not realizing that you need to change – Sometimes we aren’t lucky enough to feel dissatisfied with our lives. We are at a point in life where things feel good, but in reality we are coasting towards impending doom. This happens when you lack a high level of awareness. It happens when you aren’t paying attention. Raise your level of awareness through self reflection and introspection. Journal, ask yourself questions, and pay attention to who you are and who you want to be. Don’t lose track of the big picture.
Blaming yourself and sinking into depression – The default reaction when feeling dissatisfied with life is to blame yourself for your problems. You are the architect of your life, right? As true as this is, there are two things to remember: 1. You are not in control of the outcomes in life and 2. Even if you are to blame for your life situation, no good comes from dwelling on the past. The best way to avoid this is to DO SOMETHING. Don’t allow yourself to live in the past or feel bad about life. Pick a change that sounds satisfying and start taking action towards making the change. Action cures.
If you feel good about your life situation, your challenge is to develop the habit of self reflection and savor life while it’s in your favor.
If you feel like you need to shake things up:
-Make a list of activities, hobbies, careers, subjects, skills, etc that are interesting to you.
-Pick 1 thing from that list that you want to focus on and take action TODAY towards accomplishing it.
If you’re interested in getting more motivation to make a big change in your life, I highly recommend this book. It’s one of my all time favorites.