By TULA- Austin Assistant, Nikki Rampick of The Connectwork
I don’t know where I’m going. I don’t know who I am or who I’m supposed to be. I don’t know why I feel this way. I thought I had it all planned...this wasn’t the life I imagined when dreaming of “someday”... Or is it…?
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These are questions that I did, or, rather, do ask myself a lot. Especially now, in this life stage - one that feels both the most exciting and the most intimidating all at once. That special, much-awaited, highly-anticipated twenties to thirties time - yeah, you know what I’m talking about if you’re living it. It’s awesome, and it’s awful in the most age-appropriate way. Oh yeah. Maybe you can relate, too?
During my quest throughout these uniquely trying years, I’ve found a few fundamentals that helped to make this time of life not just bearable, but breakthrough-filled. First, though, I had to develop an awareness that set the foundation for my appreciation, learning, and growth. In sharing these keys with you, I offer a piece of me that will hopefully resonate with you and perhaps make your journey a bit easier - and, of course, super awesome - too.
Here’s the kick - this whole “quarter-life crisis” thing can be a total adventure - a life-changing one - if you allow it to be. If you invite it to be. There’s both pain and pleasure in the process - such is growth, such is life, such is anything worth your time and effort. Most of us find that, once we make it through, the pain seems fairly minimal compared to the pleasure that ensued after pursuing one’s path, journey, dream. It’s there for you…
There are three important action-aims I’d suggest considering when questing through your “quarter-life venture.” For simplicity’s sake, these helpful tidbits all begin with the letter “h.” Life’s complicated enough. Let’s keep it simple with some alliteration, yes?
First, HABITS. Habits hone our future. We can pick up a habit, put down a habit, exchange a habit, and all of the above. Some habits are “good” ones; others, uh...not so much. The thing to realize here is this: what we do on a consistent basis shapes our present and creates our future. Many of the “Greats” have expressed this sentiment repeatedly throughout the eons. I’m just here to reiterate it. I started something several years back that I want to recommend to you now. Every thirty days, I commit to a new “habit-goal.” There are constantly things that we’re working to improve upon, but if we don’t focus on one at a time, our human distraction comes in and takes away our opportunity to win. So, please, focus on ONE thing at a time. And make it a habit this month, eh? (Meaning, partake in the new activity/skill/commitment at least once daily). In the words of world-renowned author and leader, Sean Covey, “Depending on what they are, our habits will either make us or break us. We become what we repeatedly do.” So you do you. Right? But, I encourage, do you in a more habitual fashion that will help to get you someplace...you actually want to go.
Alright, here we go, number two. HOPE. Here, we must consider that the answers can often be found in the very questions themselves. So, to start, ponder these few questions considerately: what is it that you hope for? And, what is it that inspires hope in you? I’ve found that the honest answers to these questions can often provide the keys needed to unlock your potential, your destiny. Perhaps trite, it’s also entirely true. A year ago, I lost my best friend in a tragic accident. I was at the presumed apex of my quarter-life quest and was, then, forced to redefine, in a whole new way, life again. This journey again. Serendipitously, and over time, my friend’s death inspired a hope in me to inspire hope in others who were also grieving. Community was formed. And purpose was found. Music, my greatest passion, even entered the picture along the way. Sometimes, our answers, as we know, can come in the most unexpected, sometimes heartbreaking, ways, but if we seek the lesson in these experiences, I believe that the golden nugget found will be our own very greatest gift, to hold and to offer. Put simply: hope, and offer hope. Then, watch and see….
One last thing on the hope topic, once you’ve asked yourself these questions and have found an answer (or an idea of an answer - your answers can change, by the way), I encourage you to write these answers down. Don’t type them, please. Write them. And put them somewhere accessible where you can see them regularly. Try to use it as both a guide and a reminder to focus on that which will lead you in the direction you seek (even if you’re unsure of the specifics of that right now). Just a recommendation here, take it or leave it. What works is always whatever works best for you. So tailor this how you see fit.
And, the third aim - that last one that always seems to be the most significant, is this - HELP. When considering life and our space in it - as most of us are tending to during this particular phase-stage - we come up against the meaning of our significance. What is it that we are going to/can/will do that will make and leave the greatest impact? Why are we even here? These are extensions of some of the questions that I started with at the beginning - my own life-pondering questions. When it comes to the root, the core, which is what this is - discovering our purpose - I believe we must consider the power of “we,” the collective productive energy in togetherness. This happens when we extend outward by coming together with others and offer back that which we’ve been given - whether that’s resources, education, a special gift, talent, skill, or whatever - we are all here to share. And, in sharing, we unite and co-create an activation energy that is so powerful it impacts every single one of us. Pushing each of us forward in the direction of his, her, our dreams. This, I promise you.
Equally significant, the ability to ask for help is among the top bravest things you can do. In fact, this is a skill in itself. Sometimes life stuff can simply-not-simply be too much, and this is when seeking out guidance from a professional or someone who has a particular expertise can provide the most useful. At times, we need more accountability than we can offer ourselves. That’s okay. That’s self-awareness. That’s conquering the crisis and embracing the quest. Asking for help also inspires others to do the same. You’re not just helping you here; you’re helping anyone who happens to cross your path. Hence, sharing.
If, right now, you’re stuck, do this: consider the innate gifts that are yours and find a way to offer them back to others. For free. Make it a service. Or a hobby. And then see what that brings - what that inspires - perhaps there’s a venture or a profession that’s perfect for your unique ability, for your personal goal to succeed? You never know. But beginning with giving, I’ve found will not lead one astray. In fact, it does the opposite. It will always lead you (back) the right way. Whatever that “right” way is for you. Maybe it’s the wrong way at first, but it leads you back somewhere that ends up being the right way, so it all works out. The point is - we don’t know if we don’t do. This is not about “thinking” about it. This is about getting up, going, and doing. We act to achieve. We act to excel. We act to contribute. We act to connect. We act to find meaning. So do it…
Here’s the deal - the quarter-life crisis-to-quest journey isn’t one to be intimidated by or overwhelmed by - as said, this can be one of the most exciting and invigorating times in life, if you allow it to be. I invite you to take use of the Habit - Hope - Help Action Aim Plan and enjoy what it brings into your life. My hope is that it will allow you to enjoy this precious time- this unique life space - wholly - without being inundated by the fear, anxiety, and shame that can sometimes accompany these years - they will come and go - the pain, the pleasure, the time - all of it. Your only job here is to grab hold of this venture that is solely yours to define, partake, enjoy, discover, create…. And live it like you mean it.
“I am seeking. I am striving. I am in it with all my heart.”--Vincent van Gogh