They say the best way to know what you do want is by figuring out what you don’t want.
What happens though, when you know you don’t want what you’ve got? And you have no idea what else you could want, either. You also however don’t know that you if you really know you don’t want what you have?
You picture yourself doing a million different things while treading water in an ocean of options. There are a million things you could do, yet none of them feel right. You could go for that promotion, but that’s so much effort for something you’re not totally certain you want. You could move to another city, but you don’t know if that’s where you really want to live.
You feel paralyzed from all the options available and somehow none of them feel quite right. And it spirals deeper and deeper into uncertainty, until the uncertainty becomes a part of who you are. It makes itself comfortable in your mind, setting in for the long haul. It redecorates who you are. Shaping your identity.
Here are five things you can do to help push you out of this sense of limbo:
1. Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude
The ability to harness positive energy during this challenging time gives you the skill of being able to whether the storm, no matter what else happens of you. The easiest way to find this positive energy is to start being grateful. If you are positive, you will attract not only more positive energy, and almost instantly start noticing the beauty in this world. This in itself may push you out of a Quarter-Life Crisis Limbo. Find something you’re sincerely grateful for – regardless of how small it may seem. As long as it’s true for you.
2. Never lose faith in the end of the story
If gratitude feels like too much (how can you be grateful for such fear, paralyzing uncertainty, the doubt, the feeling of failure?) – consider the Stockdale Paradox. Never “loose faith in the end of the story, you will prevail in the end. And you will make this experience a defining moment in the end that you would not trade”. Make this period of uncertainty matter; make it mean something for you. Use this doubt to shape who you are, relish in the flavor of ambiguity. Understand this sense of uncertainty, and confusion, consciously learn how you respond to this ambiguity. While the veil of society leads us to think everyone else has answers and that we ourselves should have them, but we don’t. The truth is that we are not meant to.
3. Understand the sincere Why
The sincere why, is your true motivation for why you are living the life you have. This takes some awareness, and soul-searching.
Go on a journey within to really understand what values are driving your decision making. Why are you in university? Why are you taking the promotion? Why are you really signing a mortgage? Is it because this will bring you the highest, purest amount of joy, happiness? If not, why are you doing it? The only person you need to be honest with is yourself, this isn’t about the story you’ll tell the world, but the truth inside.
4. Make the Fear Real
Fear is at the root of this paralyzing self-doubt, which is why you’re in limbo-land. You’re afraid that to make a move, because you’re afraid it’s the wrong one, and even more afraid to waste your time and energy. However, standing still, treading water, you’re still wasting that precious energy.
If you give fear an identity, you make it something that you can control, a shape to your feeling, remove it from your being disconnect yourself from that emotion. You are not your fear just as you are not any emotion. The best way to do this, is to do something terrifying. When you face your fear head on, suddenly, fear isn’t obscure anymore. When you face it, it looses its power. It becomes a separate entity from your being. You see all the things you were unconsciously afraid of; you’re afraid of not being understood, not being accepted, and these things will make you unhappy. When you face it, suddenly, you separate yourself from your fear. Fear is no longer running your life. It becomes this extra part of your consciousness. It shouts these irrational statements to get you to change your behaviour like the drunkard of your soul – BUT YOU WILL BE POOR, YOU WONT HAVE ANY FRIENDS. And you know that you are not your fear. You are stronger than that now.
Pick something. Pick the thing that feels bold, and terrifying, and thrilling. It doesn’t need to be specific; it might just be a calling for more meaning. The Quarter-Life Crisis, is born, mainly out of fear. If you’re stuck in a lease, have to pay off some debt, graduate. Wrap it up, but do not let fear dictate what you do once that limitation is removed. Make yourself a conscious promise to act at the first opportunity. You know that there’s something more. And you are on the journey of a lifetime to find it.
Has any explorer ever returned home, saying “I went out on an adventure looking for something – and I didn’t find anything at all.”?