3 Fun Questions To Help You Choose Your Big Goal In Life?
I am often asked, what if I have too many ideas? Or what if I have no ideas at all?
Now, it would be unfair, but it’s tempting in both cases to say, “Just Try” things and call it a day.
I will elaborate, but that is the main point. If you can strengthen your dreamer muscle, there will be plenty of ideas, too many to even try them all.
So the simple answer is just pick something and try it. But, if you are really stuck, how do you pick something?
Start Dreaming Like A Kid Again
Picture the concept of being a kid in kindergarten, or a toddler on the park. Really envision that feeling of wanting to be a superhero, an astronaut, or the first ambitions you had to be anything at all.
Well, unfortunately sometimes we “grow up” and actually lose this skill.
We talked in a previous episode about giving up on past dreams. Without judging ourselves we simply asked “why did we not pursue these dreams? Or if we did pursue them, even for a very little while, why did we give up?
Many of us, whether as kids playing with blocks, or in our pre teen years, we had those dreams, those ambitions that we envisioned and didn’t chase, or we chased and failed.
Sometimes they simply weren’t meant to be. And that part is fine.
But, what we can not do is allow these failures, these missed attempts to prevent us from dreaming like a kid anymore.
What Can We Do About It?
One thing we know to be true is that words do not teach.
Reading, or listening to a podcast like this will help, but it does not lead to learning.
What does lead to learning is action and experiences.
What we want to learn is how to dream big, and therefore we must gain more and more experience doing just that. We need to make dreaming a core part of our being again.
The amazing thing is that this is never a pass, fail, or even a grade point, evaluation exercise. It’s a forever thing and the goal is to feel good doing it. Amidst the ups and downs, it’s all about loving the journey.
There Are No Right Answers
When I was growing up we used textbooks that had the answers in the back of the book.
I know these still exist too because my daughter was doing a word search from the dollar store the other day and the book had the answers at the back too.
Here’s the thing about big dreams though.
There are no right answers, so there are no answers at the back of the book.
Life is much more like a personal science experiment. You and only you can search for answers. You have to make a hypothesis, test things, draw conclusions, and make adjustments.
Many of us overthink the planning stages of taking on a new goal. This keeps us stuck in the past.
We need to think more like scientists detectives and design thinkers.
“Figuring it out” should be our everyday mode.
We need to think in terms of problems, test things out, fail often, learn and pivot.
We need to stop worrying about consistency, or results and focus more on change and enjoying the very next, tiny step.
If we can create a bias toward action instead, then we are always in the arena.
When you think of an idea, simply try it.
This is why I made my handle on socials @JustTries, because I wanted it to be a front and center symbol of this idea. As you try things you will develop the ability to craft a bigger dream around what you learn about yourself.
How Do You Know What To Try?
There are three things that I like to focus on when helping people organize their ideas for what they could “try”.
The way I like to do this is by taking a piece of paper, putting your name in the middle, and creating connections outward by thinking about, or discussing three big questions.
- What are your strengths?
- What are your interests?
- Who would you want to be?
Do you have to do all three? No. Maybe you already know you want to be a model, a singer-songwriter, or a teacher. That’s awesome.
But it never hurts to try one, ore more of these brainstorming methods.
And, maybe you have no clue what to try. In that case, these will really help.
1. What Are Your Strengths?
Knowing our strengths serves us in two important ways.
One, it reminds us that we are very capable at things in building our confidence, and two, it allows us to think of ways to leverage our talents as we pursue our big passions.
Oftentimes some of our passions feel like an unwinnable, never-ending, uphill battle. When that is the case, it can be due to the fact that we aren’t leveraging our strengths quite enough.
What are you good at?
When it comes to starting any project, you are solving a problem for others.
You don’t need to be building some massive company to be solving a problem for people. Any and every project we take on will be solving a problem.
The strengths and skills you have can be used to solve these problems for others.
So the question becomes, what are all of the possible skills you could use to solve problems? While you are brainstorming, here are a few prompts to get you started:
- When you think of traits and skills that you are good at, what comes to mind?
- If you have someone or some people whose opinions you value enough to ask, then ask them what they think your strengths are and add these to the list.
- What are five skills that you would love to improve?
- What are five skills that you are good at and what careers, or passion projects could you pursue for each of those strengths?
- If you were to teach something what would it be?
2. What Are Your Interests?
Society often leads us to believe that we need to either choose to focus on passions or skills.
In reality, we can create a life built on both. It is not either, or, the truth is it can be skill and passion.
In fact, we need to focus more and more on passion and creativity in the future of work.
If employers can a.) train people to do the same things you do for cheaper or b.) those things can be automated by robots, then we will either be compensated poorly, or we will be replaced.
It’s human nature and evolution, if a job isn’t needed, it won’t be around.
Besides, life is short. In the time we have physical representation on this earth, we might as well pursue the things that bring us the greatest joy.
This is good news!
These may seem like stressful, depressing things. But it can actually be the opposite.
It’s why I get so excited about helping people find their true passion and craft a way to pursue it.
It is an exciting time because we can focus on learning to do things that
a.) can’t be automated and
b.) would be very difficult, or near impossible to train others to do what we do.
In other words, robots will never take away personal creative pursuits.
What Do You Love?
We talked about the importance of strengths. We may be able to leverage our strengths to help us along the way. And eventually, strengths and interests will blend together.
But for now let’s focus on figuring out what your passions are. What activity, passion, or past time do you participate in that you feel most energized and excited about? While you are brainstorming, here are a few prompts to get you started:
- What are a couple topics you love learning about?
- What are you interested in, that fascinates, or intrigues you?
- Name the top ten activities that bring you a state of flow.
- What things you would do all day, every day, for free if you never had to worry about work commitments, schedules, or bills?
3. Who Do You Want To Be?
Warning! We have to be careful with this one.
This is a perfect example of something that is very, very hard to explain without coaching someone one to one. But I’ll try.
Let me start with an important rule:
Comparing ourselves to others as a way of measuring our worth is useless and we should not do it.
O.K. That said, jealousy can be a very important hint toward things that we may be interested in trying.
Who Inspires You?
Everyone who has pursued their meaning has done so on the shoulders of giants. As Austin Kleon broadcasts on the title of his bestselling book, we all have to “Steal Like An Artist”.
In every industry, the current greats built their success on the progress of those who came before them.
Lebron James learned from Kobe, who learned from Michael Jordan. And the next basketball players will learn from Lebron.
Billie Eilish learned from Amy Winehouse and Tyler The Creator, who were probably influenced by Aaliyah and The Beatles. And the next musicians will learn from Billie.
Like every emotion in life, jealousy has two sides to it. There is one for beating ourself up and feeling less than others. But there is also a healthy side for inspiration and hints toward something we might want to achieve, or at least try.
So the question becomes, who inspires you? While you are brainstorming, here are a few prompts to get you started:
- What celebrities make you wonder what it would be like to be them?
- What lifestyles do you observe that make you feel a bit jealous?
- If you could achieve the accomplishments of anyone else in the world, who would it be?
Even though I’ve mentioned it twice I feel it’s important to mention one more time. Comparing ourselves to others can have a very negative effect.
But it is ok to let the world inspire us.
We can only see as far as we personally know based on our own, limited experiences.
Allowing others to open up our eyes to possibilities we never thought of, it takes the pressure off of trying to figure this out for ourselves. It’s simply way easier to let others give us hints.
But remember, this is just an exercise to get those hints and not something we do to measure our worth.
BONUS: Improve Your Self Reflection
If it is still difficult to come up with answers to these questions, there are two things you can do that tend to make it easier.
One, improve self-reflection. Self-reflection is not just for monks locked away for weeks at a time. Every one of us can benefit from being more reflective. Regular reflection will help no matter how you do it. It leads to new ideas and plants seeds in your heart, mind, and soul that could lead to your greatest dreams.
Try meditation, steady-state exercise, writing, showering, hot tub, sauna, etc. It doesn’t matter what you choose to do. But, you should commit to fifteen minutes per day to reflect without distractions.
Secondly, bring in backup. When we are fighting really strong dream blockers it can be helpful to have reinforcements. Ask someone else to reflect with you. Ask them to help you brainstorm what your strengths are, what you love to do, and who you aspire to be.
This could be formalized like hiring a coach. But it can also just be a friend, family member, or colleague that you trust. You might even need to ask a couple of people. Either way outside conversations can often lead to personal breakthroughs.
Oh, one last thing. While we are in pursuit of your big dream, I want to point out that these things will change. Often times that’s the main thing getting in the way. The idea that you are picking something forever. That it will be imprinted and stained on to your skin like a tattoo. Goals can shift and evolve. The important thing is that we find the most valuable one at this time.
Aright, there ya have it. Three ways that you can determine what things you “want to try”. Over the coming solo episodes we’ll talk about maintaining our mindset in the early stages of trying things and pretty soon make a decision to focus on one thing.
Thanks for reading. Your pal,