There is this quote by Prof. Feynman, “It’s not your speed that matters, it’s your direction that actually does.” And it hits right at the bull’s eye.
No matter how fast you are moving in life, if it’s in the wrong direction, you can never reach your desired destination. On the other hand, even if you are just crawling in the right direction, then that’s a whole lot better than the previous scenario.
But so often, we get all lost in this maze of life, not having the tiniest of clues to confirm whether the path we have chosen is headed in the right direction or not. Hell, we don’t even really know what is actually the right direction in life.
Let The Treasure Hunt Begin
What is the Right Direction in Life?
Well, what do you think we all want from our lives? Do we really want different things in life? Or is it that we all want the same thing but pursue it in a different way?
I’d put my money on the latter.
The thing is that every living creature, at least we humans, works in the same manner fundamentally.
Would you rather be happy or miserable? Would you rather be rich or poor? Would you rather be peaceful or restless? Would you rather be wise or foolish? Would you rather be free or caged in a prison? Would you rather be fulfilled or have a void in you?
See what I am talking about? As long as you are a sane and rational person, we are all gonna choose the former over the latter. But still, if we look at our life decisions, can we really say that they are in sync with what we actually want?
Seems unlikely. If it were the case, there wouldn’t be any crimes of any kind, and we’d be living in a Utopia, but clearly, that’s not how it is.
So, essentially, we want one thing but are doing something that at times may not even remotely look like what we actually want from deep within. Why do you think that is?
Why do we Lose our Direction?
Is it because doing those valuable things looks boring and monotonous to most of us? Or the fact that it is our laziness that makes us procrastinate? Are we really just ignorant about what we really want? Is it our monkey mind that gets the better of us?
Whatever is the case, one thing is for sure, those goals that we all have aren’t short-term goals. They are long-term games. But the problem is that our mind is wired for short-term pleasures.
It feeds on experiences that will give you the instant dopamine hit and make you feel like you are on cloud seven. And this chasing of instant gratification becomes the biggest roadblock for our journey. This is primarily why we lose our sense of right and wrong and get knocked down to a totally different direction altogether, a direction that leads to nowhere meaningful.
Small goals for short-term pleasures?
We just talked about the fact that our mind chases short-term pleasures. So, instead of trying to change the functioning of the mind, what if we figure out a way so that the mind also gets its pleasure and we also get the job done?
Yes, I am talking about setting small goals in the right direction.
We oftentimes, end up setting such massive goals for ourselves, that our mind quits before even giving it a try and end up getting wasted. The trick here is to break down that big goal into smaller objectives.
Instead of aiming to wake up at 5 am in the morning, start by getting up 30 min before your usual waking hours.
Instead of cutting down all the junk food from your diet at once, start with cutting down a single component.
Instead of hoping to lift 100kg at the gym in your first week, start with 20kg.
I hope you got the point? Taking small and consistent steps like these will hit two birds from a single stone. Your mind is gonna relish it since it’s pretty likely that you can easily accomplish them. And you won’t lose your direction too.
Positivity is not the solution
When we lose our direction and are just drifting here and there without any concrete logic or rationalization, we think that simply becoming positive and stuffing our minds with all the positive platitudes will help us find our way.
But actually, you don’t need positivity or negativity at that point in time. What you really need is mental clarity to assess the underlying situation, look at the facts and figures of reality, and then make a rational decision based upon that.
Just overloading your mind with positivity or negativity might not serve you in the best way. Keep it light. The job should be to minimize the mental confusion that’s hindering you from choosing the right direction in life.
If there are two diverging paths and you know exactly which path to choose to reach where you want to reach, then there is no confusion. But the problem arises when we don’t know which path to choose because more often than not we are not clear where we want to go.
Passion or Profession
This is perhaps one of the most debated topics of this generation. People are kinda lost as to whether they should pursue their passion or focus on the tried and tested path of a conventional profession that has been laid by society.
I am sure you must have gone through this predicament too.
So, what’s the right direction here?
First of all, we need to understand the difference between the two. Passion and profession, for 99.9999% of the population, is not the same thing. Only a handful of people on this planet can say that their passion and profession are one and the same thing.
You can be passionate about literally anything and everything under the Sun. But that doesn’t mean you should necessarily make it your profession because ultimately you have to earn money too if you want to live a comfortable and stress-free life.
The problem arises when the majority of people look at the minority of people who made their passion their profession and now want to do the same.
An example to see what is the right direction
For instance, let’s say you are deeply passionate about singing and you just can’t get enough of it, but you also work at an MNC which is your profession per se. Now, you have a conflict within, if you should keep pursuing your job, or should go full time doing your passion.
If you want to pursue your passion (singing) just because you saw a couple of young singers, almost your age, who are killing it—the world knows them, and they apparently have it all, namely name, fame, and money—then your passion isn’t actually singing, it’s chasing success.
So ask yourself whether the activity that you are choosing is your passion or if your interest lies in getting the end result of doing that particular activity. The majority do it not for the love of the activity but for the end results which is pretty lame.
If you also are more excited about the end results, then I wouldn’t recommend you to choose it in the first place because you’d get bored pretty soon if you don’t start getting results and would ultimately quit and now you’d belong to nowhere.
But if you are deeply passionate about something, then you should start then and there. You don’t need to quit your day job to do that. You can start anywhere anytime. You don’t have to care whether anyone cares about what you are doing. That would be a testament to the fact that you actually are passionate.
And I am gonna say something that might piss you off. If you have to read an article on the internet to decide whether you should work upon your passion or not, then my friend that’s not a passion in the first place. You are just trying to hedge your bets and looking for someone to tell you that you should “go for it” and “everything’s gonna be fine.”
If you really were passionate about the activity, and not the end results(name, fame, money), you would have taken the right direction and would have started already.
The activity should be the end goal
Now, what do I mean by that statement?
Well, most of us, spend our entire lives doing something in order to get something eventually. It can be money, respect, name, fame, dignity, and yada yada yada. If we are able to secure those things, we call ourselves successful, if we don’t, we consider ourselves worthless losers who are nothing but a burden for humanity.
And that’s again you taking the wrong direction.
The right direction would be when you are doing the activity for the sheer love of it. You don’t care whether anyone’s watching or not, you don’t give a damn whether anyone cares about it or not, you don’t care whether anyone’s applauding you or not. You are doing it because you just can’t stop yourself from doing it.
Just like when you play your favorite sport primarily because you enjoy playing the sport and your playing that sport is a complete activity in itself, you doing something you love should also be a complete action in itself. Simply doing the thing should be the outcome you need.
You shouldn’t have to postpone anything to tomorrow as your very act of doing the activity should fill you with joy and bliss. That’s what real passion is all about.
The end results become a secondary thing. You don’t wait for it, you don’t chase it, and you certainly don’t get upset if you don’t get any. But that doesn’t mean you want to repel it.
And you know what the funniest part is?
People who actually don’t care about the end results but only the work they are doing end up getting the most. And people who only care about the end results and doing the particular thing is more like a chore for them to complete, end up getting nothing.
The reasoning is simple. When you are doing something for the love of doing it, when you are doing it as if nobody’s watching you do it with all your heart, mind, and soul, then that’s where something magical takes birth.
So, my advice for you would be that if your passion and profession are different, then continue with your profession because we also have to be practical as we are living in a real-world which is not all sunshine and rainbows and there is such a thing called “money problems”.
And start pursuing your passion in your free time without expecting anything in return. If you can still keep up with it for a couple of months and are only getting more and more into it, then it’d be safe to say that you actually enjoy doing it.
And once you start doing it like that, and I mean in the truest sense, then that’s when the world comes to you instead of you running behind the world waiting for its approval.
How I choose the right direction
To cite my own example, I can write in two ways.
One way can be where I am writing for you guyz, to make you happy, to comfort you, to tell you what you want to hear, all so that you can keep coming back to read more and more of it and keep applauding me. Of course, I don’t write it this way.
I write whatever I want to write, however I wish to write, whenever I wish to write, to express what I feel should be expressed through me. If you want to read it, well and good, I am truly grateful about it. If you don’t, no harm no foul. And that’s just me being brutally honest.
All I am saying is, I wouldn’t do something I wouldn’t want to do just to make some extra cash or get more popular because of it. Yeah, if I am getting all of that as a side result of what I intend to do, I’d feel deeply humbled and would be eternally grateful for that.
Having said that I don’t intend to mean that I don’t want any feedback or don’t wanna improve myself. That’s a different subject altogether.
The Pole Star and the Right Direction
Just like in ancient times, the Pole Star was used to keep us from losing the right direction, we yet again are in a dire need of a Pole Star in the modern world where we are apparently more distracted and lost than our ancestors. And no, modern technology is not the answer we are looking for.
We need something more powerful and more permanent. And the answer is, we need to make “exploring the greatest possibilities of yourself, physically, mentally, intellectually, and spiritually” our purpose.
There cannot be a bigger purpose than that now, isn’t it? And if we can genuinely make this our purpose in life, then we will never lose our direction.
And when I say you will never lose your direction, I mean it. Though it doesn’t mean that you won’t fail, or you won’t get distracted, or you would become highly productive or anything like that. You are gonna do all of that as you used to.
The only difference will come at the level of your mindset. Now, instead of running from the bad and chasing the good, you will rise above both of them and would learn from everything life throws at you. Be it good or bad, positive or negative, happy or sad, joy or morose, laughter or tears, white or black.
And if you think about it, that’s what it actually means to discover the highest possibilities of life, because life includes and encompasses everything, things you can’t even imagine in the wildest of your dreams. The best and the worst, are all part of life and once you set your mind to learn from everything, that’s when you will know that you are cruising in the right direction.
Don’t form this superficial belief in your head that if you choose the right direction, everything will go according to you. That’s a shallow and naive understanding of life. You’d fail, you’d get punched, you’d fall down, but walking in the right direction will eventually take you closer to your destination.
Don’t Give Up Control
So many people today give up their control of life. They let someone else take the wheels and sit in the backseat themselves. All for what? So that they can dodge accountability and revoke their responsibility.
They think that just because they gave up control, that gives them the license to play the blame game in full swing and put the responsibility for their own screw-ups on God, society, family, friends, or even destiny.
But what they completely miss out on is the fact that ultimately, it’s their goddamn car that’s gonna crash, it’s their freaking life they are horsing around with. And that’s not cool.
The cost of giving up control of your life far far outweighs the cost of taking responsibility when shit hits the fan. I mean c’mon, do you really wanna be the spectator of your own game and critique the players? Or do you wanna be the star player of your game?
Seems pretty straightforward to me.
So, even though it goes without saying, I will still say it out loud once more, “DO NOT GIVE UP CONTROL, COME WHAT MAY.”
Yes, you will hit the car multiple times, you will crash into poles, again and again, you may even end up hurting others and yourself in the process, but after all that, when you do reach your destination, you are gonna relish that moment like never before.
When you’d look back at the journey of what you went through, you’d feel proud of the fact that you didn’t give up and you weren’t a coward. Your worth in your own eyes will grow multiple-fold and you are gonna savor the journey till your last breath.
Make learning how to drive your car cum life the best way possible to explore anything and everything life has to offer, and you will never lose your direction.