I occasionally get emails – mostly from women between 18-30 – asking me different versions of the same question:
How do you know?
How do you know what you’re supposed to do? How do you know what you should be investing in? How do you know what you were made for?
All those inspirational quotes about following your dreams that are flying around Pinterest, they’re great…but what if you don’t know what your dreams are? Or what if you have ten dreams and you know you don’t have the time or money or resources to pursue them all, but you’re terrified that if you choose one, it’ll be the wrong one. And you might spend a year working on something that is The Wrong Thing while The Right Thing slips further away.
If that’s you, listen to me. I’m going to tell you what I tell everyone who asks me:
You will not choose The Wrong Thing.
Seven years ago, I was still a newlywed. I’d worked as a teacher and a newspaper reporter and a communications officer for a non-profit. But I wanted to be a writer or a photographer or maybe even a hairstylist or a massage therapist.
My poor husband. He listened to me come up with a new scheme every couple of weeks, and it must have stressed him out. It stressed me out. Because I’d read that quote that said something like “find what makes you come alive and do that, because what the world needs is more people who have come alive”…except I didn’t know what would make me come alive. I just knew that what I was doing wasn’t it.
How I got from there to here is a long story, and not a straightforward one, but in the beginning, what it took was just STARTING. It was choosing to stop letting fear stand in the way, to stop letting it make my decisions for me. Just choosing one thing of the 100 and pressing play. And as I moved forward, it became easier to see which direction I was moving in – kind of like how it’s easier to turn the steering wheel when your car is moving than when it’s parked in the drive.
So if there’s something (or ten things) you’re dreaming of, and you can’t choose, can’t start – if fear is telling you that you will choose the wrong thing, and everything you do will be a waste of time – tell that voice to quiet down. Fear is never the right platform to make your decisions from.
Just start. Just press play.