What do you want out of life?
It’s this huge mountain of a question. I had some assumptions, but I never sat down and thought about it. My ex-boyfriend made me. It was one of those interrogation tactics meant to be followed with, “where do you want this relationship to go?” and “do we want the same things?” My reaction was immediate panic. He didn’t sense the pressure change in the room. I didn’t have a good answer. It took me some time, and maybe some maturity, to realize that this was something I should be asking myself and something that I needed the answer to if I wanted direction in my relationship, but also if I wanted direction in my life.
Those kinds of questions can come from anywhere. They often come from the people who care about you–like parents.
My friend’s mother visited a month-ago. Three gin and tonics later and she’s asking about our five-year plans and leveling with us about settling on our dreams. Her fear of us dying alone was probably much higher than our own. It’s enough to incite medium to high levels of anxiety.
She gave great advice – with the kind of understandings about life that you can only gain through experience – but a layer of, “fuck, I don’t know” filled the silence in our responses. It may not take your parent any alcohol to start asking why they don’t have any grandchildren or why you don’t have any money, but the results may be the same.
“I don’t know” is such a simple answer, but it’s neither honest, nor fair. Put some thought into yourself.
Not thinking about the future leads to things like not having a retirement fund, being in poor or frail physical health, and maybe being in a marriage you don’t like or even being alone when you don’t want to be. Those ideas trigger enough fear to put off planning indefinitely, as though maybe you could avoid it. Setting goals might actually lessen your anxiety, give you a sense of purpose, and light a fire under your ass. We can all use a little ass fire. Please, don’t ever quote me.
This is life. You can plan everything meticulously and still be derailed. So there is this delicate balance between making the most of your present while working towards a future.
Now think. Are you? Are you making the most of your present? Are you happy? Are there things that you want out of life? Are there things within yourself that you want to explore creatively or intellectually? Are you giving your all into your everyday?
While self-driven people with a butt load of motivation, perhaps a bit of confidence, and a little direction can figure it out on their own, you don’t have to do everything by yourself. Create support systems. Strengthen your choices with the help of other people. It’s not about dependence or finding co-dependent relationships but, rather, about using your surroundings to your advantage. Live your life.
It’s up to you to assess your goals, short and long-term. Think of friends that you can ask, who share similar goals, to join you. Also consider organizations that you can join to kick start yourself into doing activities that interest you. Here are some ideas if you are struggling with where to start:
Move your body. Engage your muscles and your mind.
Set a health goal with a friend – for eating, exercise, or intellect. Use the buddy system to keep each other on track.
Cook and package all your food for the week on Sunday with the help of a friend.
Get a hiking buddy.
Do a swimming laps competition with someone.
Join a mud run with your friends… just, you know, not this one.
Find a Groupon deal (yoga, paddle boarding, TRX, biking).
Pick one day a week, like good ole’ Sunday, to spend an hour walking and talking with a friend.
Scary. I know. But, put yourself in a position to be near like-minded, motivated people.
Bounce ideas off of a friend while making a list of your career goals.
Google a Meet-up group to meet new contacts.
Join an organization geared towards your demographic.
Volunteer in your community.
Try the community group at your particular religious organization.
Do any one of these with a friend.
Spend an afternoon on the weekend with a friend working on your resume.
If your career requires that you have a physical manifestation of work (a writer, an artist, etc…), then set aside time for you to work on it every day.
I don’t know why it’s so hard to meet people, at least in Los Angeles.
Go out with your friends. Actually talk to other people.
Maybe you have a fear of online dating- you and a friend can sign up, create profiles, and share horror stories weekly.
Sit down with a friend and make a list of things you value in other people. What are the deal breakers? What do you want out of your next relationship? What kind of people have you dated and do they fit a pattern?
Lastly, date yourself for a while. Find out the things you like and don’t like. Sure, you can’t break up when you it’s just not working out, so work through your shit.
Worst comes to worst, sit down with someone on a sunny afternoon and write out your one month plan, then your year plan, then your 2 year plan, then your five year plan. Once you have an idea of where you want to be, then you can set up goals to work your way there. You’re not alone.