Here’s the typical thought process when you don’t know what to do with your life.
Oh my gosh, I’m lost.
I don’t know what to do.
I want to be happy.
I want to find meaning.
But I don’t even know where to start.
This is impossible.
You think there is one, great thing that will make you happy.
You think you’re just supposed to know what to do with your life and choose it so you can be done with the agonizing decision-making process.
But this is not how life works.
How often have you thought really hard for a few minutes and just KNEW, like that, what you were supposed to do next with your life?
I’m not talking about minor decisions.
I’m talking about the pivotal decisions in your life, like choosing the right career or life partner.
These are not decisions you should take lightly.
And fortunately, there’s a strategy you can use to figure out what you are supposed to be doing in life.
I call it making small bets, and it’s something I’ve been doing for years and years.
It’s the only strategy I know that drastically increases the odds that I’ll end up doing something I love.
Here’s what it looks like.
Say you’re at a crossroads with your current job and you don’t know what to do next.
Society would tell you that you need to immediately know what the next big move is–and make it right then and there.
But like I said above, this is not how life works.
You don’t think, “OK, I’m an engineer, now I will be a sales professional.”
You don’t say to yourself, “OK, I’m working for Bongo Corporation in Maine, and now I will go work for Bango Corporation in California.”
Life’s not that simple, and if I’m being honest, we shouldn’t want it to be that way.
We’re not robots, after all. Figuring it out for ourselves is part of the joy of life.
No, what you need to do is make small bets.
You need to think about 3-5 activities you could pursue that will get you headed in the right direction.
What you choose to pursue as small bets will depend on your particular situation and what goals you have for your life.
Let’s just say that you’re deeply unsatisfied with your current career path.
Instead of just choosing a whole new career path in an instant, test the waters with small bets.
- Volunteer in the field that you’re interested in
- Take a part-time job in the new field–or one that is tangentially related to it
- Help a friend by doing something that someone in the new field would typically have to do
- Read a book about the field to see if you even like it
- Watch YouTube videos about how to get started in the new career
These are all small bets that have very little risk.
And the good part is that you’re not committing your whole life to them.
I don’t know about you, but I panic when I feel like I’m not going to have time to do everything I want to do in life.
Making small bets solves that.
By pursuing an activity for a few months to a year, you get valuable experience. Most importantly, you learn about the activity and about yourself.
When I’m choosing new projects to work on, whether for fun or professional reasons, I ask myself, “Am I going to learn something here even if I fail?”
If the answer is yes, I do it.
If it’s no, I move on and pick something else.
Small bets increase your learning speed, and they diversify your risk, to borrow a financial term.
When you don’t put all your eggs in one basket, well, your eggs aren’t all in one basket. They’re in lots of pretty little baskets that you can carry around from place to place. They’re much less likely to break, and you never know what you might find to also put in that particular basket.