In this week’s episode of The Working With… Podcast I answer a question about How to find what it is you want to do with your life.
Hello and welcome to episode 37 of my Working With Podcast. A podcast created to answer all your questions about productivity, GTD, time management, self-development and goal planning. My name is Carl Pullein and I am your host for this show.
This week’s question is a rather popular question. I also find a lot of my English communication students also struggle with this. Discovering what it is you want to do in life. I know that sounds like a big philosophical question, but the truth is if you don’t know what it is you want to do with your life you are going to drift and drifting through life is never a good thing. As I wrote in my blog post last week (a link is in the show notes) drifting through life results in a life of regret and by the time you realise you have spent your whole precious life drifting it is often too late to do anything about it.
Before we get into this week’s question, I want to give you guys a heads up to the launch of my Time And Life Mastery 2018 edition course. Time And Life Mastery is my premium online course that takes you on a journey of self-discovery and shows you how to discover exactly what it is you want to achieve in life. Once you have established what it is you want to achieve and do, the second part of the course shows you how you can take control of your time so your goals and purpose take centre stage of your daily life.
It’s a fantastic course and last year’s edition was my most popular course by far. The course launches on the Friday 3rd August and I would love to see you there. There’s a link in the show notes to the course’s page where you will find all the information you need.
Right, onto this week’s question so it is now time for me to hand you over to the mystery podcast voice for this week’s question.
This week’s question comes from Sandra, Philip and Sandeep. They ask: I know it is important to have a plan, but I really don’t know what I want to do. Do you have any tips on how to find my goals and purpose?
Thank you for the question guys.
As I mentioned in the intro, I know this is a very difficult question for many people. In fact, if I am being very honest with you, it took me a very long time to discover what it is I want to achieve in life. I would have been around 32 years old before I discovered that teaching was what I wanted to do. Before that, I tried many jobs from hotel management and selling cars to being a lawyer. All of which left me feeling empty and not excited about the future. It was only when I took the chance to come to Korea and teach English did I finally discover that teaching was what I wanted to do and that I loved everything about teaching from the planning of lessons to the helping of students to improve an area they were really struggling with. It was my willingness to experiment and try new things that finally led me towards teaching and the discovery that teaching was the vocation I loved doing.
So that would be my first piece of advice. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Experimenting doesn’t mean quitting your current job and trying something new, but let’s say you are curious about teaching, there are plenty of opportunities where you can volunteer to teach something you know about. That could be inside the company you work for—you could volunteer to do a presentation on your know-how. One of the companies I used to work for did a monthly training session where a different teacher each month would do a fifteen-minute training session on their own teaching know-how. It was a great way to get new insights into teaching and how to handle difficult, non-responsive students.
Another way is to start doing whatever it is you want to try. If you want to be a writer, then start writing. Begin a blog and write something every week. You don’t need to publish anything. You just need to write. You can judge for yourself if you enjoy the process. Same goes for creating videos or making your own music. We have the technology now on almost all our devices to create and make things whether that is writing, film or music production.
But let’s say you have absolutely no idea what it is you want to do. How do you discover the things you want to do? Well, this is a lot easier than you may think. The first thing you need to do is to take a piece of paper (or a note in your note-taking app) and write “fifty things I want to do in the next ten years” at the top. Then, underneath the title begin writing down everything you would like to do over the next ten years. Don’t filter anything. No matter how unrealistic something is if you want to do it or would like to try to over the next ten years get it written down. This is not about what is possible and what is not. This is just a list of things you would like to do over the next ten years.
One of the things on my ten-year list is to fly to the UK and buy a brand new Aston Martin DB11 and drive it all the way to Korea from the UK. Aside from the prohibitive cost of actually buying an Aston Martin, it is also a rather unrealistic thing to do. However, it is not really about whether you will actually do something it is more about getting your thinking into a place that will allow you to discover the kind of things you truly want to do in your life.
The problem we all share is that over the years we have developed filters in our mind about what is possible and what is not possible. Many things we have labelled as being impossible have become that way, not because they are actually impossible, but because we have allowed these filters to develop by listening to other people who have told us what are the right or wrong things to do. But remember, when someone else tells you what is right and what is wrong or what is possible and what is impossible they are only giving you their own opinion. Opinions are not necessarily correct. Often the best way to find out is to try for yourself.
Now this list of fifty things is going to take some time. When I did my list it took a few weeks to get it to fifty. The first twenty were quite easy. After that, it became much harder. But I persisted and after a few weeks, I had a list of fifty things I wanted to achieve over the next ten years.
The funny thing is, many of the things on my list have become true. I have begun a blog, started a YouTube channel on productivity and written a book each year. All of these things I found I really enjoy doing. Strangely, writing the blog, my YouTube channel and this podcast are all related to teaching people. Most of the things I really enjoy doing come back to that. Teaching. It is what I do and it is what I feel is my purpose.
Once you have your list of fifty things you are going to find there are quite a few things that have a common purpose. For me, it was creating content to share with other people. Of course, there were a few material things on there too. Buying the Aston Martin for example and also buying a house on the east coast of Korea. These are material and they are things I want to do over the next ten years. The point is you write everything down. Don’t let whether something is possible or not stop you from putting it on your list. The whole point is you have a list of your desires and wants.
Now, once you have your list of fifty things you will need to start dividing it up into when you would like to accomplish them. Some of them you may want to do in the next year. Put those on the next year list. Others may be in the next three years, or perhaps 5 years. And of course, some of the bigger, more ambitious things may require a bit more time. Put them on your ten-year list. When you divide these things up into when you want to achieve them, try to get an even a stream as you can. There’s no point in loading everything up into the next five years. This is a ten-year list. So spread them out over a realistic timeline. My Aston Martin idea would go on my ten-year list for example. There’s a lot of things I want to do over the next year and taking one or two months off to travel across the world is not going to be very practical when I want to develop my YouTube channel and blog over the next five years.
One thing I can promise you is this exercise is fun. It allows your imagination to run wild and it breaks down the limiting self-beliefs that you have acquired over the years about what you can and cannot do. And we’ve all picked up those limiting self-beliefs. This is one of the reasons why many people struggle to find what it is they want to do with their lives. They allow these beliefs to take hold and to start believing they cannot do things. The truth is you can do these things, but you first need to allow your imagination to open up. Once your imagination opens up and you get fifty things written down, the next step is to start and work on a plan to make them become a reality.
For me, starting the YouTube channel was a big challenge. I have never been comfortable in front of a camera, so I realised I would have overcome that fear first and then develop a theme and a plan to make it happen. Three years ago I did that. It took a few weeks, a lot of abortive attempts but I persisted, and today when I look back at my first videos I cringe at how awful they are. But then I look at what I am producing today and what I have learnt over the last three years about video production and editing and I feel happy I am progressing in the right direction. The same can be said for my blog. I read those early blog posts and laugh at how bad they were. But again, over the last three years or so, I have learnt a lot, got better and now I feel confident I can sit down and write a reasonable blog post. Now I am a contributing writer for Likehack - so I must be doing something right!
The thing is we have all got to start somewhere. And if you really have no idea what it is you want to do with your amazing life then the best place to start is with a piece of paper and start writing out all the things you would like to do. It doesn’t matter whether some of those things are crazy, stupid, impossible or the complete opposite of what you are doing today. It does not matter how old you are. It is never too late to change direction. The point is if you discover you are moving in the wrong direction then it is better to find out now rather to never find out.
So start the list. It will take you a few weeks to get to fifty. But the time and effort is well worth it because of what you will discover about yourself.
Good luck and remember, if you do want to go into a lot more detail and you are serious about building a life you can be proud of, then take a look at my Time And Life Mastery course. That could very well be the course that changes your life for the better and set you on your way to accomplishing the things you really want to accomplish.
It just remains for me now to wish you all a very very productive week.