What do you *really* want to do with your life?

The VCE results have come in for 2009 and for year 12s around Australia I’m sure it was a moment of relief, joy, disappointment or even indifference.

Reliving my own experience I recall the apparent gravity of the situation – being handed a number that will steer a young adult towards a university degree which in turn has an almost direct impact on what he/she will be doing for a career (or two…or three…)

And while I didn’t acknowledge it at the time, it was so…unnatural.

It’s easy to say you want to be an accountant, teacher or microbiologist specialising in infectious diseases of diabetic foot ulcers. The proliferation of specialised university courses makes this easy to pigeonhole ourselves in such a way. But they’re just job titles / skill sets; labels to place upon ourselves to give us a sense of belonging and social rank.

Despite the past successes most of us have achieved such as scoring a degree of choice and landing a decent job I sense an air incertitude among our generation. Reality has hit after reaching the other end of a system that was conveniently pushing us along to where we are now. Though resolving it is really quite simple.

So as an exercise, whether you’re feeling unsettled about where you are or are absolutely certain you know what you’re doing, it pays to step back and ask yourself: “what do I really want to do with my life?”. And when answering it, I mean really completely deconstructing the very notion of what your current, or ‘to-be’ career is.

For instance, say you want to be a criminal lawyer. You don’t really want to be acriminal lawyer, thats just a job title. Instead, see it for what core moral, ethical or emotional values it entails, and see if that resonates with you. As a criminal lawyer you probably want things to be fair, establish a sense of balance and justice. Or you want to defend the weak to give you a sense of pride. Or perhaps you want security and comfort.

What ever it is, it’s these core values that drive us. And finding the right ones gives much more meaning than what any job title can provide.

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5 Responses to “What do you *really* want to do with your life?”

  1. adamaxon Says:

    To recap, I questioned the ability to obtain meaning from external sources. Your response was the source of meaning isn't important.

    I concur with this point to an extent but I question the longitivtiy of external sources of meaning and happiness. As often meaning is something that provokes happiness, even if it's through sadness initially. The rawness of the moment will fade over time and eventually be forgotten because it's based on an external source rather than a renewable internal source.

  2. Will Says:

    I see what you mean, but if you stay connected with people, either through friends, community involvement or collaboration then you're more likely to come across new opportunities and sources of meaning. These interactions give us context that could enhance our view of the world and ourselves or even bring about an internal source.

    So while an internal source would be 'preferred' there's no way of knowing when a person will find it. The best that can be done in the meantime is to stay engaged with others and let fate take care of the rest. People do gravitate to it, just some move faster than others.

  3. adamaxon Says:

    Once again I'll keep it simple. To find this internal source people only need look, instead most people are preoccupied with looking externally, sometimes for the duration of their life.

    This doesn't mean that you don't look for external meaning or satisfaction mind you, but it's just important to be able to see it for what it is.

  4. Will Says:

    The existence of both internal and external sources go hand in hand – one can't be without the other because they give each other context. Though while it may be simple for people to look internally some may not have the emotional, spiritual or mental maturity to do so.

  5. adamaxon Says:

    I both agree and disagree. I think that only true meaning can only be found within but what that does is allow you to see the external world for what it truly is. It's true though that while everyone has the capacity to see this, most overlook it.

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