What should I do with my life?
- Posted on May 17, 2018
From Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, comes this conversation between her and the grinning Cheshire cat: Alice: “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” Cheshire cat: “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.” Alice: “I don’t much care where—.” Cheshire cat: “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.” Alice: “—so long as I get SOMEWHERE.” Cheshire cat: “Oh, you’re sure to do that, ‘if you only walk long enough.” Alice felt that this could not be denied, so she tried another question. “What sort of people live about here?” Cheshire cat: “In THAT direction,” waving its right paw round, “lives a Hatter and in THAT direction,” waving the other paw, “lives a March Hare. Visit either you like, they’re both mad.” Alice: “But I don’t want to go among mad people.” Cheshire cat: “Oh, you can’t help that, we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.” Alice: “How do you know I’m mad?” Cheshire cat: “You must be or you wouldn’t have come here.”
When You Find Yourself Directionless in Life
Alice’s’ story begins when she is bored sitting on a riverbank on a warm summer afternoon. She chases a rabbit and falls down what seems to be an endless rabbit hole. As she falls, she assumes she will never return to the live that she has known. Alice’s’ story is a good metaphor for habit two of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Learning this habit begins with a suggestion that you to visualize your own funeral. Come to understand what others are going to say about you when you are no longer there. Are you asking others questions such as “which way should I go” or “what should I make of my life”, or “what will be my life’s work”? If that’s the direction your life is going in, you may as well “go ask Alice when she is just small”. There you will get as good of answer as you will anywhere else. Only you should decide where you are going and what to make of your only life. Begin today with the image, picture, or paradigm of the end of your life as your frame of reference or the criterion by which everything else is examined.
Today’s behavior, tomorrow’s behavior, and next month’s behavior must be based on your context of the whole, of what really matters most to you. To build a house, a contractor must first have a blueprint. To bake a cake, a baker begins with a recipe. To lead a meaningful life, you must have a vision and a plan. Much like building a house or baking a cake, having a life vision and plan is a two-step process. First, you must create the blueprint and second you must take decisive action to make it happen.
Make Big Decisions Not Small Ones
Habit two isn’t about making every life decision when you are still a teenager or young adult. At those ages, you still have much to learn that will affect the decisions that you do make. Habit two is about deciding on the values and guiding principles that you will follow in life. If you choose the right principles from the beginning, you should have no reason to change them as you mature in life. However, you will come to understand them in more in-depth and find more ways to apply them. A good guiding principle should be to have both long and short term plans. A long term plan might be to marry and start a family once you find the right spouse. You can decide what qualities you are seeking in a spouse but you can’t decide who your spouse should be until you meet him or her. Short term you can make weekly and monthly plans to support your long term plans. Following the marriage example, you can make plans to get out of the house to meet new people in places that women or men having the characteristics you are looking for are hanging out at. You might take a cooking class or a pottery class or something else. Break your planning down a little further. In addition to a weekly plan, create a daily plan. Not a plan of every little thing that you will do but you should have a short list of important things that you must accomplish each day.
Most People are More Prepared to Die Than to Live
Adults take out life insurance policies and write wills in preparation for death. Yet, these same people have no plan in life. The way you begin with the end in mind is by having a personal mission statement of what you want to accomplish in life and then a plan to make it happen. Life will have you facing challenges and making life-changing decisions. When you have a principle based mission statement, your choices become much clearer and easier to make.
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