All of us are headed somewhere in life. We may not know it, we may not even consciously be doing anything about it, but we are headed somewhere. In fact, most of us consciously are doing something about it. We are all working towards something, getting that job, getting a promotion, getting good marks on exams, getting a girlfriend, building a family, getting a degree and what not. Some of us know exactly where we are going, in the long run, and some of us just need to get someplace in a month and we’ll take it from there. More importantly, very few of us know where we want to go in the long run, or in the short run. ‘Want’ is such a misunderstood and overused word when it comes to life aspirations and career goals. I want to be an astronaut when I grow up. As a four year old, do you really want to be an astronaut or do you just want to float about somewhere? The joy is that as a four year old, you really don’t have to care. It doesn’t matter whether you want to actually be an astronaut or just float around, it’s quite irrelevant at that age. But as we grow up, people become acutely aware of the stark difference between what you want to do and what you are/ will do. Most people don’t know what they want to do. And most people are unhappy with their lives. I’ve heard people say, I want to be an investment agent. Do you really want to be an investment agent or do you just want to make a lot of money so that you never have to face financial insecurity again? I want to be a lawyer. Do you want to be a lawyer or do you like the idea of wearing a black robe and fighting for the wronged? I want to be in the entertainment industry. Do you really get a thrill out of memorizing lines and getting into different characters for the camera or do you just feel like it looks very fun and beautiful and want to be a part of it?
And these are the better situations, trust me. These are people who, at least, have some inkling of what they want to do. They may be wrong but they are convinced they are right and are following their own judgement in pursuing these paths – they may not be thrilled about the content matter but the adrenaline will get them through. Worse are those who follow a path because it is the default option, because they already have the qualifications for it, because they think they’ll look impressive doing it or because it’s a ‘viable option’. And that is most of us.
Think about it. Why do you do what you do, really? What are you working towards and why? And I mean really why, is it what you’ve always wanted to do? Does it give you butterflies in your stomach? Are you thrilled to even be thinking about it now? Can you not wait to get back to doing it? It doesn’t matter, does it? There are many factors driving what we do and who we become, many more than us just wanting to do something because we feel good doing it. You know, those people that get interviewed on TV, saying, “I can’t believe I’m being paid to do what I do. This is what I’ve always done anyway, since I was a child and now, I’m still doing it and getting paid to do it as well! It’s the dream job. I wake up every morning and I can’t wait to start working on the day’s project. I never want to stop or retire as this is the most fun thing I can think of doing. I’m basically living the dream life of four year old me and getting paid for it.” I really want to be like that.
I once watched Sting, the musician, on TV, create music with his band by just jamming and playing music throughout the day and noting down the bits that sounded best. Every few hours, they took a break. And do you know what they did in that break? They played music. They just couldn’t stop. It’s like music was coming out of every pore of their body and they just couldn’t, didn’t stop. It was a working weekday and each one of them was so happy. they looked like they were on vacation. And at the end of this vacation, they came up with some breakthrough songs that broke the charts. I want to be like that. But most of us aren’t.
So, my question is, how hard can you run towards something you don’t want to go to?