This is one of the big questions that you ponder when your future seems unclear. It can be unnerving when you don’t know what your future could hold. It can also be exciting knowing that the options are endless.
You can fall down a rabbit hole of self-examination when trying to understand how your future might look. There can be a feeling of helplessness if you don’t find an answer that you can accept.
Your life may be headed in no defined direction at the moment but this can be changed with a little effort on your part. It is within your power to choose which direction you want to steer your life toward. First, you have to figure out what you want and what is possible.
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Your starting point is right here, right now
No matter what your past looks like, everything that you have direct influence over is starting right now. Obviously. your past will have an effect on your options, for example, if you went to college, you may have a different set of job opportunities than someone who didn’t. But, what is in the past cannot be changed, and regretting the paths not taken won’t help you move in the right direction in your life now.
Likewise, if you’ve just gotten out of prison and have no money, no education, and no place to go, you will have different options than someone who didn’t do time. You can waste a lot of time feeling sorry for yourself in this situation or you can take charge and find a way to change your future.
You have a tremendous amount of influence over what happens next but you do have to work with your current situation. People have risen above their problematic pasts to become world leaders. It is possible for anyone to change what happens next but you can’t pretend that your past didn’t happen or that it doesn’t affect where you are now and where you are going.
Consider how you want your life to look
Think about how your life will look in 5 years if you don’t change anything about how you live now. If you kept all the same habits, same career, same friends, does your future look bright? If you don’t like the prospects of this likely future, you have to change course. You have to consider which adjustments need to be made.
Is your physical health improving, degrading, or being maintained? Will you have enough money to live the life you want? Will your relationships be healthy and supportive or will you be isolated? All of these factors and more are being shaped by the lifestyle you are living now.
If you don’t like the direction that these aspects of your life are going, you have to course. Otherwise, you know exactly what to expect from life in 5 years.
Your future is malleable but you have to be willing to put in the work to shape it how you want it to look.
How habits shape your life
Habits are one of the most influential factors in your life. They are often subconscious and can be difficult to break or change if you don’t know how. There is no reason why you cannot re-invent yourself with a different set of habits at any point during your life.
There is a lot of misleading information regarding building and breaking habits. We are told that breaking habits is incredibly difficult. This isn’t always true.
Society tells us that quitting drinking or smoking is nearly impossible. This is only true if you follow a bad method. People try to quit drinking or smoking by following the common wisdom or a 12 step plan. But look at how high the failure rate is for these methods.
And even those few who “succeed” with these methods usually still struggle with the ex-habit for years (or the rest of their lives). So many quitters still crave their ex-addiction and have to fight the urge regularly. This can lead to background unhappiness because they know they are only one mistake away from falling back into their old ways.
This is no way to live! Struggling every day to resist temptation? That’s not freedom. These people live in fear of one day falling back into their habit that they never really broke in the first place. They rely on willpower and mental strength which can both wear down, leading to failure. There are better ways to beat this that lead to feeling peace and contentment.
It is out of the scope of this article to go into depth about quitting these two habits but in short, Allen Carr has written the best books on the topic. I used his books to quit both habits and it was easy. Seriously. It was easy and I recommend his books to anyone else who is interested in making this change in their life.
Okay, back to habits.
Building positive habits is just as important as breaking negative ones. Think of positive habits as shaping the direction your life will go, whereas breaking negative habits close off some bad paths that your life could go otherwise.
Habit building is a skill as well. The best book on this is The Power of Habit. Read this and you will have a much easier time with implementing new, positive habits into your life.
Do not accept the minimum from life
You could coast through life without much purpose or direction and things would probably be somewhat okay. You could work that same job and spend 40 hours a week doing something that you don’t love. That is not to say that you would be happy, but at least you probably won’t starve to death or live on the streets (probably…). You could live this way but why? There is too much uncertainty, too much left to chance. It is the bare minimum.
The first step towards creating a more fulfilling life is to stop accepting the absolute minimum from life. Strive for more than just barely getting by and having no real goals or dreams.
If you want your life to really shine and achieve the heights that it can, it requires more than just coasting through. It takes effort and risk. And you will have failures, so many failures. But this is part of living assertively.
Life isn’t meant to be lived while in a mind daze. You have to question what society says is the normal way to live. You aren’t supposed to work 40 years (or more) and then retire so you can scrape by with barely enough money to live while watching TV until you die.
Societal programming tells us that this is normal and an okay way for a person to live. It is a huge lie and a waste of a life. This is a life devoid of meaning. Don’t do it to yourself!
Instead, take charge of your future and put in the work to shape it how you want. It isn’t as difficult as we are told. It is just a matter of taking logical steps that mold our future over the long term.
Your daily routine and habits are the most important factor in building this life for yourself. Just putting one hour a day into working out will have drastic results in shaping your body. And spending 20 minutes a day studying will drastically increase your overall intelligence and future earning potential.
There is no reason to put off these changes. You can even change small things at first. You could read for 10 minutes a day to start. After this daily practice becomes easy, you can increase the time to 20 or 30 minutes. These baby steps will prove to yourself that you can make changes.
You could do the same with writing, or painting, or any other skill/passion that you think will make your life better. You can start shifting your life in the direction that you want. It is that simple. There is no huge event that needs to happen in order for you to start taking control of your life. Just decide to put in the work every day and incrementally make each day better than the last. Use that vision of your improved life in 5 years as inspiration to stick with your new routine.
If you improve yourself just 1% per week (or month, or whatever) consistently, you will exponentially increase your personal growth and happiness. You can have nearly anything that you want, but it won’t just magically appear in front of you. You have to put in the work and a lot of time, effort, and energy. When you put in the work required, you can have faith that the results will eventually come to you.
This is the way to create a fulfilling life that you enjoy. No more coasting and accepting the bare minimum of your potential. Don’t waste years of your life and let society dictate how you spend your days.
Take the necessary action and shape your future. Slowly build positive habits and cull the bad ones.
When you ask, “where is my life headed,” the answer is always, “where you choose to take it.”