The question is not ‘what to do with my life’, but how to be in my life? How to be comfortable with who you are. How to be at peace with the world, how to be inspired by something. If you discover how to be, what to do will automatically take care of itself.
‘’What do with my life’ is not a very a helpful question at all. For, the inescapable answer is; “Anything! Anything, for heaven’s sake!” The possibilities are very many for the human being, even amidst the various constraints that life inevitably throws at us. Furthermore, this question completely misses that what you do doesn’t really matter, if you feel hollow while doing it. It misses the crucial point that how you feel about what you do, whatever that may be, is what really matters.
Reframing the question in this way shifts your attention from ‘out there’ to ‘in here’. From without to within. It brings clearly into focus your relationship with yourself and the world. It is like a light that illuminates when you have been stumbling around in the dark. You were looking for a special trinket, but in the light’s glow a great many things become appealing! Many things become equally valid and equally inviting.
But, what makes this possible?
Hidden question behind ‘what to do with my life’
The question of ‘what do with my life’ is actually incomplete. The really important bit is left unsaid, hiding the true motivation for asking the question. It is often some variation of ‘what to do with my life so that I can be a success’. ‘What to do with my life so I don’t feel like a failure. Or, ‘what do with my life so that I can get the approval of family, friends, peers.’ They all point to the same thing.
The question always betrays a kind of hidden existential anxiety. Anxiety around needing to prove your worth. Needing to constantly ‘better’ the human condition because we never feel it is enough. So, we cling to external achievements, rather than look to the source of discontentment within. And, the source of discontentment is none other than discontentment itself! That feeling that you must strive to reach some mountain top where you will put-up a flag amidst much applause.
We asked before what makes the shining of the light possible. What it takes is a shift in perspective. A shift that lets go of the need to measure yourself against external benchmarks. A shift towards really noticing your inner experience — how you feel in life, whether at work or at home. This is the self-knowledge that asking ‘how to be’ creates. It awakens you to all that is within. What you love, what you hate, what inspires you, what repels you and scares you. To experience in its totality.
Too often, a great many of us grind ourselves down doing things we believe we should be doing. We ignore how we really feel because we are so fixated on ‘achieving’. We are running so fast towards some arbitrary and hazy goal that we are blind to our own inner pain.
From ‘what to do with my life’ towards how to be
So, the shift in perspective is very much about letting go. About giving-up the idea that what you do, defines your worth. And, this is only made possible by becoming awake to yourself. Awake to the grip of inner tension as you chase that ‘ultimate thing’ you believe will give your life meaning. Remember that all this tends to happen outside of conscious attention. That is why waking-up to yourself enables release. Because we are marching ahead under a kind of collective hypnosis.
The good news is that with greater self-knowledge, ‘what to do’ will automatically emerge without you even bothering about it! You will very naturally begin to follow your interest and inspiration wherever it takes you.
Harsha is a 1:1 coach and independent thinker based in London. He empowers people to find more clarity, confidence and focus in their lives — to cut through the noise, in a world so full of it. Harsha’s new book, Machine Ego: Tragedy of the Modern Mind, is now available in paperback and Kindle through Amazon.