It all started with a bad case of shoulditis.
You know— shoulditis, the ailment affecting one in three young professionals. Nearly 90 percent of cases have been found to result in severe and sometimes fatal damage to one’s inborn potential, ultimately leading to the slow and silent death of, well, the soul. (For more details, read my original post on shoulditis here.)
I’d wake up puking and could barely make it through the day, the feeling was so strong.
“You pregnant?” a coworker asked me.
“Nah,” I said. I peered over at him above my cubicle wall. “Shoulditis.”
Nausea, vomiting, throwing up within the mouth: along with the persistent sense that you “should” have your life all figured out (or that you “should” follow a certain predetermined career path), these are telltale symptoms of shoulditis.
He nodded at me as if he understood, but the dead-like look in his eyes told me otherwise. I knew he’d taken Suckitup®, the treatment choice of the masses, long ago. His soul— I’d guess it was already 85% deteriorated.
But me? I was restless. I just knew that there had to be more to life than this— more than coming into work every day, staring at an Excel spreadsheet, and then returning home every night to reruns of Friends. I felt like Belle from Beauty & The Beast, spinning around in the middle of a field and singing at the top of my lungs. “There’s got to be more than this provincial life!”
So that’s how I ended up here, writing this story from a coffee shop in Idaho. Homeless (well, sort of). With a bird in my backseat, a fire in my soul, and nothing but a carful of clothes and a bucketful of nail polish to my name. Yes, that’s how I ended up here, ready to embark on the journey of a lifetime.
But before I go there, let’s get back to the point: let’s get back to the saving of our souls.
Because the thing is, when I wrote about shoulditis on The Brazen Life Blog awhile back, I promised people that I’d teach them how to save their souls, and hundreds of people signed up to receive my free guide. I promised that twenty-twelve would be the year that we’d kick our shoulditis to the curb, freeing our souls in the process.
Whether you’re overwhelmed by the array of options and you have no clue what to do with your life, whether you feel stuck in a soulless path that’s not your own, or BOTH, The Free Mini-Kit for Finding the Work of Your Life is exactly what you’ve been looking for.
HOW TO SAVE YOUR FREAKING SOUL:
There’s a problem in the world today, and it has resulted in an overwhelming epidemic of shoulditis.
The problem? People stick us in school for twelve+ years, give us a Meyers-Briggs test and some vague career/college counseling, and then send us on our way, expecting that this is all we’ll need to get everything alllllll figured out.
But hang on a second— it’s 2012, and I STILL haven’t even decided yet if I’m on team Anniston or Team Jolie.
Heck, I can’t even decide what I want to eat for lunch today.
So how in the hell am I supposed to figure out what to do for the rest of my freaking life??
Here’s the thing, guys: most of us feel like we should have it all figured out, but most of us… well, most of us don’t.
Most of us are either (a) Completely lost, confused, and directionless when it comes to what we want to do with our lives, (b) Stuck in a career path we don’t enjoy but feel powerless to leave, or (c) Both of the above.
And there’s a
—-THE SUPER SIMPLE REASON WHY—-
Awhile back, I saw this super cute jacket online. I mean, everything about it seemed perfect. For one, it was purple— my favorite color. It hung perfectly on this model, and I imagined it would look just the same on me. Also, it was on sale. How could it not be made for me? I hit the “order” button immediately. My dream jacket!
A few days later, the jacket arrived. I ripped open the box in anticipation, threw the packaging all over the room, and put it on.
And it looked— well, it looked freaking horrible.
I hated it.
Because here’s the thing: no matter how much we browse online or ask questions or read reviews, no amount of analysis, no matter how thorough and no matter how calculated, can ever replace the actual experience— the actual trying on of the clothes.
And so the problem is simple: We live in a culture that encourages internet shopping for careers.
Think about it. For the most part, school teaches us to analyze our options but allows for little real-life experience prior to making our decisions. We take classes to learn about subject matter and we take aptitude tests to learn about ourselves, and then we’re supposed to match the two up to determine our career paths.
As we’ve seen, though, internet shopping alone is rarely sufficient to make these types of decisions.
It’s not because guessing or analyzing are bad things to do. I highly encourage asking questions, analyzing your options, and trying things out to elicit feedback.
So no; the problem isn’t that we’re guessing. The problem isn’t that internet shopping exists.
The problem is that we’re guessing and expecting to get it right in ONE SHOT based on internet shopping alone, with little or no prior experience.
May I repeat: It’s not the guessing that’s a bad thing. It’s the guessing in one shot, the internet shopping and expecting that you’ll get it perfectly right the first time around that’s a bad thing.
That’s what gets you stuck— when all you have is $150 and you spend all $150 of it on what you think will be the one perfect jacket.
And then when it turns out you’re wrong, you feel stuck, because think of all you’ve invested! You spent all your money on this one jacket! Think of the sunk costs! To start over now? The horror!
And thus begins a lifetime of walking a path that is not your own; the slow and silent killing of your soul.
To put it another way, imagine the following scenario (this is a passage from Jim Collins’ and Morten Hansen’s new book, Great By Choice):
“Picture yourself at sea, a hostile ship bearing down on you. You have a limited amount of gunpowder. You take all your gunpowder and use it to fire a big cannonball. The cannonball flies out over the ocean… and misses the target, off by 40 degrees. You turn to your stockpile and realize that you’re out of gunpowder. You die.”
Now THIS is the problem, guys!
THIS is what I call one-shot internet shopping! Without any prior testing or experience, we are sticking all of our gunpowder into one huge cannonball and hoping that we get it right the first time around.
I mean, of course we’re having a hard time figuring things out. Of course we’re getting stuck in soulless career paths. Because
OUR METHOD FREAKING SUCKS.
We need a new process, guys. We need to be able to base our decisions on more than just one-shot internet shopping, and that’s what this guide is all about. It’s time for us to stop this madness now.
If you’ve already fired a cannonball, you’re probably thinking, “Crap, I’m screwed now.”
The good news is you aren’t: I’ll show you a way out.
And if you haven’t yet fired a cannonball, I’ll show you a better way of doing things.
—-THE SECOND PROBLEM—-
OK guys, so there’s also a second problem with internet shopping. Here it is:
Maybe the jacket that’s truly meant for you, the one that truly, truly fits you— maybe it doesn’t exist online.
Well, think about it.
Back in the day when I was trying to “internet shop” for my career path, I made a list of things I thought I liked to do. Based on the traditional “internet shopping” method of analysis, I was hoping to match these “likes” up to the perfect career.
In essence I was saying “I like purple,” and then off I went internet shopping to find the perfect purple jacket.
Go ahead and take a gander at my list:
- “I like helping people”
- “I like inspiring people”
- “I like being creative”
- “I like building, creating, innovating”
- “I like writing”
- “I like asking questions”
- “I like crafting original solutions”
- “I like thinking outside of the box”
- “I like listening to people”
- “I like connecting to people”
- “I like being in charge of, and accountable for, my own work and my own results”
- “I like learning”
- “I like working on my own terms”
- “I like creating change”
- “I like thinking of better ways to do things”
- “I like self-insight”
- “I like personal development”
OK, so there you go.
So what’s the “answer” to these questions, guys?
Based on this assessment, what would you say is my dream job?
Go on, tell me.
Really… tell me!
The thing is, there are multitudes of things I could do to integrate these “likes,” some of which haven’t even been dreamt up as of yet. Literally, the possibilities are infinite.
And yet this is what we are attempting to do when we internet shop. Based on a list of aptitudes and likes, we are attempting to pinpoint The One Thing We Are Supposed To Do With Our Lives.
I can tell you one thing for sure: Creating The Unlost was not on my list of options when I took the career test in high school.
It also wasn’t on the list of careers for college graduates with a psychology/accounting degree.
I couldn’t even find it on Monster.com.
And yet, when I listen deeply to my soul, there’s no doubt that this is the one thing that makes me feel most alive. As freaking weird as it sounds, I believe that this is what I was called to do. Doing this work— it is somehow inseparable from who I am.
Therein lies the second problem: we are looking outside of ourselves at a predetermined list of careers, and we are doing our best to “internet-shop” and to match our skills and interests up with the perfect jacket.
But sometimes what we’re meant to do isn’t on the list.
Sometimes the jacket that is ours alone isn’t on the internet.
We could browse the internet for a lifetime, we could scour a list of careers for hours on end, and still we might never find the jacket that is ours, simply because it doesn’t yet exist. It is one of a kind; it is ours alone. We are going to have to make it ourselves.
Consider this: Perhaps we aren’t meant to be an artist or a psychologist or an engineer or anything on any pre-existing list. Perhaps we are meant to be— simply, ourselves. And perhaps when we are most ourselves, a part of this just happens to involve creating art or counseling people or engineering— in that way which only we can do.
So listen up:
Maybe we aren’t just looking for a career. Maybe we’re looking for ourselves, for that person we were meant to become.
And who we are might not (and in fact probably doesn’t) exist on a list out there.
If you find this idea to be contradictory to the idea of trying on lots of jackets to determine your career path, then hang tight. There will be more explanation to come.
—-THERE IS NOT JUST ONE WAY TO KILL YOUR SOUL—-
Now before we really get into the meat of things, let’s make sure I first address a popular misconception. THEN I promise I’ll get into the good stuff. But trust me, you need to hear this first.
Because the thing is, amazing people who want to save their souls often fail to see how internet shopping applies to both sides of the equation. We tend to conjure up bold visions and dreams, and I love this about us.
We’ve got to be careful, though. There’s not just one way to kill your soul, there are two.
“I THINK I’M SUPPOSED TO DEWORM ORPHANS IN SOMALIA!” you announce one day after being struck by a bold insight.
“IT’S WHAT I’VE BEEN CALLED TO DO! I AM GUNNA QUIT THIS STUPID JOB!”
But wait a second— HOLD ON!
Isn’t this just another version of internet shopping?
Sure, it’s a bold vision. Sure, it goes against the “norms,” against the status quo. Sure, it excites you and it awakens your soul, and this is all very good.
But at the same time, it doesn’t matter if you’re settling for an unfulfilling cubicle job or whether you’re stepping out on your own to fulfill a bold vision— in both cases you haven’t taken the time to try on the jacket.
Either way, you haven’t tested things out or gained any prior experience to help guide you.
And as we’ve learned, firing an uncalibrated one-shot cannonball can be awfully dangerous.
So listen up, guys:
Up until now, you’ve been afraid of taking Suckitup, of getting stuck in a soulless job for all eternity.
But it turns out that moving too quickly in the opposite direction can kill it just as surely.
Because there are in fact two ways to kill your soul: one is to fire all your gunpowder in a single shot, to spend all your money on one jacket, to get stuck in your one-shot job forever and to believe there’s no way out.
The second is to jump ship from your soulless job too quickly, before you’re ready. To declare a grand plan without trying on any jackets, risking the chance of quickly drowning your soul.
All of life is a balancing act, guys.
Sit too still, never take action, swallow the Suckitup, and watch your soul slowly die.
But jump too quickly, without enough validation or experience, without enough of a plan and without trying on the jacket, and chances are your soul will drown.
Sure, there are always exceptions.
But are you willing to bet your soul on being one of the lucky few?
Are you willing to jump based on the mere hope that maybe, just maybe, you could end up as one of the lucky one percent?
That choice is up to you, but I can tell you one thing: I refuse to leave the survival of my soul up to luck or to chance.
The question becomes this, then: How can we try on jackets to gain experience and to help guide our process while also looking within ourselves to find that one-of-a-kind person who we were meant to become?
Don’t panic— there IS a solution, and your soul isn’t destined to die. There IS a better way to do things, and I’m going to show you how.
Now on to the solution.
Actually, that’s a lie.
This is not THE solution. This is simply a solution— one of many.
Take it or leave it.
Whether you’re just starting out on the “search for your career” or whether you’ve been stuck on a a soulless path for quite some while, this solution applies to you. You DON’T have to quit your job to implement it, and you DON’T have to take bold risks (although if you do it right, you can quit your job if you want to). All you have to do is follow the plan, and follow it consistently over time.
To learn more, sign up for The Unlost’s free Mini-Kit below.
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[Image by bayat]