That’s not how I feel. It’s a popular question on Quora. Why do more and more people seem to feel this way? In today’s blog, I want to address frequently asked questions on Quora that are all anchored in life skills.
So let’s look at this one first. “I don’t know where I am going. What do I do?”
The truth is we all start out with well-laid plans. But then, life happens. Life is unpredictable and messy. It throws us many curve balls. And we lack the emotional intelligence to deal with these changes. So, at at some point, we start to go with the flow. In other words, we start drifting, instead of living. When that happens, you feel scared; you believe you have become aimless in life.
The only way out is to rediscover your passions and your goals. Why do you get up in the morning? What makes you happy? Who are the people who matter to you? What do you think you have the potential for and are not doing? List it down. Set a date. Start working. The rain of despair gets swallowed up by the ocean of our own blood, sweat, and tears.
Here are some other related life skill-oriented questions I find on Quora.
- Everything is going wrong. What do I do?
- I feel overwhelmed by life’s demands. What do I do?
- I am frustrated and tuned out of the world. What to do?
- I feel like I want to restart. Is it possible?
Q. Everything is going wrong. What to do?
A. How do you know for sure?
When a couple of things in our life go badly, it’s easy to assume our world is coming to an end. Humans have a predilection for imagining catastrophes. But the truth, like Shakespeare said, is far saner. “Things are neither very bad nor very good. Only thinking makes them so.” Our perception plays a role in our well-being.
Secondly, do you know to what ‘extent’ things are going badly? This can be only possible if you have goals with timelines. Now assess where you stand on each of them. You will see that the problem lies in only a few areas, not all areas. So it’s an exaggeration to think that ‘everything is going wrong’. It’s not. Failure in one compartment is simply spreading to other departments, in a kind of emotional osmosis. Also, you will notice that the obstacles in front of your goal, if accepted and correctly assessed, can be overcome with planning and effort. So, in a nutshell, things are rarely as abject as our catastrophe-loving heart makes them out to be!
Q. I feel overwhelmed by life’s demands. What do I do?
A. A little extra endurance can go a very long way.
Many people in demanding jobs and courses sometimes feel like they won’t make it. The key thing to remember is this: it happens, and that this too shall pass. The reason we have chosen demanding careers or courses is because we want to achieve something that the average person cannot. So some degree of difficulty, even occasional misery, must be expected. Instead of getting bogged, take consolation in this fact: even the most talented people experience fatigue, get beaten down by setbacks, suffer pressure through ups and downs, and get distracted. You are not alone. So what differentiates the champion? Not genius. Just the ability to anticipate all this, stay calm, and keep making small steps in the right direction.
Because in the end what pulls you over the finish line is not talent. It is not even passion. It is just the ability to withstand the emotional swings of the path you have chosen, to see those swings as normal, as temporary, and to move on. I will now reveal a very big secret of success that has taken me years of coaching to discover. It’s this: Long before the actual goal is achieved, success is already present in some of us simply by achieving an emotional victory in the mind. The truly successful then understand something very important: it’s not the achievement of the goal alone that creates ‘success’. It is the mind-set that can withstand anything, even the non-achievement of the goal.
So the next time you feel overwhelmed tell yourself, This happens, and it will pass. I just need to trick my heart into believing that it is no big deal. And I need to just keep doing those tiny daily actions and suddenly, one day, it will all open out onto a big glorious field of victory. And if it doesn’t? It’s going to be OK. Because you have already forged an emotional victory in your mind.
Q. I am frustrated and tuned out of the world
A. What do you have the power to change?
Frustration is the #1 emotion a lot of people feel about the state of the world today. Frustration with government, with culture, with technology, and with urbanization. It is alright to feel overwhelmed when things don’t go your way. But we all have the power to change the world in some small way. Vote for the party you want. Open a library in your neighbourhood. Log off social media for a week. Clean up your city with friends / volunteers. Terminal frustration is not a product of the world. It is a product of one’s own egomania and inertia. Make a change today. Fight frustration with action.
Q. I feel like I want to re-start my life. Is this possible?
A. Yes, sometimes it’s the only way to find your purpose.
A lot of people find themselves on a path they don’t enjoy. But they think it’s too late to turn back. So much time will be wasted. Also, what if I fail? But we don’t realise that the energy spent worrying about the current path for the rest of one’s life is significant. If you don’t feel right, what will you lose by changing? Maybe it will all go wrong. But maybe it will all go right? When we were children, we used to fail all the time. We failed at cycling. We failed at table tennis. We failed in an exam. Did we wind down and sink into despair? No, we just got up, dusted ourselves, and tried again. What has changed now? Fear. Expectation. Grand intentions. Some of this is required. But not so much that we lose the fun, the spontaneity and the joy of living, of reaching for more. Fall down. Re-start. It’s not failure. It’s how life works!
If you are dealing with any of these situations, remind yourself of your goals. Any fear/despair can be dispelled by concretizing goals:
1. Make an assessment of where you are on something that matters to you.
2. Is the same goal valid now? If not, think of a new goal.
3. Create a plan to achieve your goal. Plan out milestones, review mechanism and decide before hand what success looks like.
4. Be aware that you are going to get bored working on this, and hence you need to have some coping mechanism planned in advance on how not to quit.
5. Now that you have done this much, don’t obsess about the goal. There is a time to work on the goal. And there is a time to do other things. Find balance.
6. Create a support system of family members, friends and mentors to ensure you are on track
7. Stick to your routine. Review yourself periodically.
8. Work. Review. Reset. Replay this again and again. One day you would have achieved your goal.
There are many difficult questions that plague us and seem to throw us into the abyss. But all of them can be combated with positivity, planning and passion. Always find out what you can do next. It is usually darkest just before the dawn.
About the Author:
Sandhya Reddy is a leadership & transformation coach based in Bangalore, India. She is the Founder and Principal Coach at Chapter Two Coaching, a coaching consultancy that enables everyone from CEOs to work-from-home parents to achieve their goals by replacing self-imposed limitations with enabling stories. Sandhya’s services include Executive Coaching and Life Coaching.