I love the way 20-something’s think. In a lot of ways, they have their acts together, have a lot more direction then we ever did at the age, and have the potential to change the world in HUGE ways with what they know. Yes, growing up with computers and technology definitely had a big impact on how they look at our society.
Having a 20-something daughter puts me in communication with a lot of 20-something’s. I love throwing questions out just to see how they think and how they would approach some of societies most challenging problems. And I’m always rewarded with very lively discussions covering every topic imaginable.
Yet as interesting as some of the conversations can be, I’ve also discovered a lot of 20-something hide behind one thought that holds them in fear. It usually goes like this:
“I’m 20 and I have no idea what I want to do with my life. I’m stuck in a degree program that is racking up my debt, and I can’t even say I like what I’m doing. What’s the point? What do I do with my life?”
My answer (though maybe not directly in these words, or directly to their faces) is get over it. You’re 20. You’re not supposed to have it all figured out.
That’s what 20 is all about. 20 is a time to be free and try new things. 20 is a time to experiment with a lot of new technologies, try a bunch of jobs, and stick with things you like to move away from things you don’t.
That’s it. Stop worrying about what you’re supposed to do or who you’re supposed to be and just start doing something – anything. The rest will come.
This past week I had another conversation, only it wasn’t with a 20-something; it was with a 50-something. It went something like this:
“I’m 52 and I have no idea what I want to do with my life. I’m stuck in a dead end job; I don’t know if it will be there in a couple of years. I’ve been there for 15 years, and I hate it. It pays the bills, but I keep asking “What’s the point?” I still have at least 15 years before I can even think of retiring, and I doubt if I’ll be able to anyway. With two kids still in high school, it’ll be another 10 years until they finish college. I’ll be paying on that for the rest of my life, so how can I even think of retirement. But the thought of sticking with this job is killing me, I can’t do it. What do I do with my life?”
See the similarities?
The resemblances hit me like a ton of bricks.
Only here’s the thing. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t think much about passion at 20. I never asked what I wanted to do with my life when I graduated high school. I went to college because my parents pushed me. The world said it would be an advantage in the job market, and I was privileged enough to have the opportunity. I just did it … because. I went to college, got the degree, started working, and moved up the chain. Life happened and I didn’t think much about it.
I didn’t question what my passion was until much later in life.
And I think that’s how it went for most of us. For one thing, we didn’t have as many choices for what we could do in life. And second, we had a lot more expectations on what society held as acceptable. We got married younger. We had kids. We lived in a community. We didn’t question what we simply didn’t understand, nor had we witnessed “finding our passion” in the lives of our parents or grandparents.
Life was just life. That was it.
So maybe it’s because our kids’ see us contemplating life in our 40’s and 50’s, and have internalized it to the point where they think they need to define it at a much earlier age.
Maybe we’re reflecting our own desires back on our kids. I’ve heard lots of midlifers tell their kids “Do what you love. If I could change one thing about my life, I would have done what I love at a much earlier age.”
Let me ask you a question: Are you doing what you love right now? Maybe that’s the problem.
Find Our Own Passions Now
If you’re still talking about “someday” when you’ll figure out life, what’s holding you back? Are you still looking for the one thing you are passionate about? Are you living your life by allowing things to happen to you, or are you taking control once and for all?
Take Steps To Figure Out What’s Important In Our Lives
Don’t just live life as you always have; do something to make a big change in your life. Start that business you’ve always wanted to. Make a hobby a bigger part of your life. The best place to start is by creating a list of things you want. Choose what means the most, and start taking action.
Change happens whether you’re ready for it or not. Instead of attending a boring meeting you’ve wanted to quit for years, or watching another television show, take that time to start working on your new idea. Change only comes when you make it happen.
Give Our Kids The Gift Of Helping Them Find More
Actions speak louder than words. If you’re like me, and have a 20 year old (or any age child) pondering what to do with her life, show her how you’re handling the situation today. By taking action yourself, you will provide her with the visual she needs to bring action into her own life as well.
Yes, it all starts with you. So the only question now is what will you be doing from this point forward to get unstuck?