How To Figure Out What You Want To Do With Your Life (Part 1)

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Go to school, graduate with a degree and get a job. Start running marathons, drink craft beer and eat a lot of sushi. Attract someone, fall in love, break-up, get a dog. I don’t know whether we are products of our environment, romantic comedies or if the media has just programmed the agenda of how we’re supposed to live in our heads. It’s actually a lot easier to just blame Obama.

At 23, a lot of my friends have graduated and moved on to finding their footing in the real world and realizing how much it sucks. No one wants to sit at a desk all day or spend two hours commuting in the car. Collecting a paycheck is great but few people are working towards gaining the freedom that we all desire.

If You Never Had To Worry About Money Again, What Would You Do?

Most of us have no idea what we would do if we didn’t have to worry about money. When asked the question above, the first thing we think of is what our vacation days go towards. Traveling the world, eating and drinking. Beyond the partying and global travel binge, eventually you would have to do something with your life everyday. It’s why Jay-Z keeps putting out albums, buying sports teams and making overpriced champagne.

When I posted the question on my facebook profile, I was curious what the answers would be. While there were a few outliers like someone who said cocaine and another who used the quote from Office Space above, I was ecstatic to see some people with real ideas.

Here are some of my favorites:

Open a highly inappropriate coffee shop with the 5 friends of mine that have expressed interest. Preliminary name…Flick the Bean :) with a coffee bean in the logo! This is my million dollar idea lol – Alysha

I would open a chain of low cost transient housing locations (hammocks and tents for rent) in Costa Rica, New Zealand, Israel and California. I would also set up scholarships with not a single pre-qualifier and fully fund 5 students entire college journeys. Random acts of kindness and then insanity and depravity would ensue lol. OH I would also set up my FizzFruit business idea, making kids enjoy eating fruit again. – Evan

I would continue volunteer teaching in less developed countries and yes, eventually open some bad ass niche restaurant/bar so I could have everyone come eat and drink with me anytime… – Rob

I’d open a fly shop or an outdoor outfitter. There’s nothing like being able to be outdoors doing what you love. – Morgan

So What Prevents People from Taking Action?

Fear of the unknown.

“…in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes” - Benjamin Franklin

As an entrepreneur or someone who is self-employed, you don’t know what’s going to happen and have to face the possibilities of failure or losing everything. This alone prevents most people from ever getting started. However I know from experience that  after you launch, the unknown is what will excite you. It will drive you to figure out solutions and continually challenge yourself.

Lack of motivation.

I don’t have time.

We justify our own actions or lack of, on the premise that during the course of our daily lives we do not have enough time. This is just another made up excuse designed to make yourself feel better.

What you’re really saying is,

This is not a priority for me.

Take a minute and write down the top four priorities for your life. Three of them should be short-term, like paying off your credit card or getting to the gym five days a week. One should be your “vision priority” which is the answer to where you see yourself in five years or where you’re going. If you don’t have one, think about it where you want to be.

Routine security.

You can get a degree, then a masters (practically required today) and eventually a job. You’ll have your two weeks of paid vacation, quarterly reviews and 401k. You can commute to work, hate your boss and go out to happy hour with your co-workers. It’s not a bad way to live by any means and if you even have half of that, you’re much more fortunate than many in this world.

If you’re in a routine now ask yourself a few questions. Are you satisfied with what you’re doing? Does your position utilize all of your skills and allow room for growth? Do you wake up excited to go to work? If you answered no, are you doing anything to change your situation?

A short story…

Recently I chatted with a friend of mine who we’ll call Shelby. Shelby is a recent graduate that’s currently working in b2b technology sales. She works from home so her hours are flexible and allow her to travel and do as she likes. The pay is also good. But she’s not happy and is looking to quit.

We talked more and she said she’s interested in moving to New York City. When I asked, “What’s in New York?” she responded with something like, “I don’t know, but at least I won’t be bored.” After prying a little more, I found out Shelby was once the President of the National Panhellenic Conference at one of the largest schools for Greek life in the country.

Transitioning from a position in power where you’re socializing, interacting and making decisions to sales is rough. When I asked, so why did you start doing this? She responded… well I needed a job.

Most of us either have been, will be or currently in that same situation. So where do you go from there? How do you really figure out what do you want to do?

Work and Your Life

If you have not seen the Steve Jobs’ commencement speech at Stanford, you should stop everything that you’re doing and watch it now. Jobs’ philosophy on life and work is the best. I use a lot of quotes in my posts because there are a lot of people smarter than me.

Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

Jobs told us that we need to do great work and everyone is capable of that. But the following two factors either enable or prohibit it from ever happening.

The Two Career Factors That Impact Your Life

  • Fulfillment – What makes you feel good?
  • Wealth – What is rich to you?

Fulfillment is feeling good about your work. I originally launched this blog as an affiliate marketing platform, but I didn’t enjoy writing about it. Now that I’ve changed to focus on consulting (hire me) and lifestyle design, the words flow and I feel I have the potential to make a meaningful impact in people’s lives.

Rich to me is being able to travel wherever I want at any time, eat nice dinners and be able to provide for my family. I used to think that I wanted yachts or private jets and while I don’t rule that out ;) it’s not really a goal. So how much money do I really need to make a month? $5,000? $10,000? $20,000? Then I have to consider how much will that number will change if I’m living in a place like Thailand.

So now that I have been able to identify what gives me a sense of fulfillment (helping people and businesses) and the amount of wealth that I need, I can work towards that goal. Right now I’m using the digital marketing skills I’ve learned to start consulting with individuals and businesses. It didn’t cost anything to start, so I just went for it.

You should do the same.

Running With Alicia’s Risque Coffee Shop

I absolutely love the idea of opening a controversial coffee shop called Flick The Bean. The personality comes through the name and there’s so much potential to create a unique environment and atmosphere for your customers. You’re appealing to an entirely different market than the local hipster hangout or the average Starbucks / Panera Bread.

Even if there are be a lot of coffee shops in your local town, they are not serving the same psychographics that you are. Flick The Bean is like Sex And The City for coffee. Million dollar idea? Maybe… but will you ever take the chance to find out?

You should definitely read $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau. Here’s a small excerpt about Jamestown Coffee in Lexington, SC.

From his home base in Seattle, James Kirk used to build and manage computer data centers around the country. But in an act of conviction that took less than six months from idea to execution, he packed up a 2006 Mustang and left Seattle for South Carolina, on a mission to start an authentic coffee shop in the land of biscuits and iced tea. Once he made the decision, he says, all other options were closed:

“There was one moment very early on where I realized, this is what I want to do, and this is what I am going to do. And that was that. Decision made. I’ll figure the rest out.”

James did it. Why can’t you?

Note: The $100 Startup is one of the best guides to starting a real business and leaving the rat race. It’s not one of those get rich books containing tons of theories that never work, but the principles that you’ll need to be profitable. Buy it on Amazon or you can borrow mine in a few weeks.

READ PART II

 

 
  • Dani Hart

    Great post Ben! It is amazing how many
    people are satisfied with mediocrity. It kills me when I hear people say “I
    could never do that” or “It pays the bills”. The greatest successes are 99
    times out of 100 the biggest risks… so let’s all get risky!

  • http://www.facebook.com/alysha.marie.cellini Alysha Marie

    You took my idea and understood where I was going with it immediately.

    U sir get it!

    At 24 I aspire to be more like you & I’ll have you know I plan to open that damn coffee shop!

    Currently taking applications for investors :)

    Ohh & FYI the homemade bagels & cream cheeses are going to be fab!

  • Pingback: 20 year old aspiring entrepreneur- where to start?

  • Sam

    Opening paragraph is priceless. Love it. Thanks.

    • http://benhebert.com Ben Hebert

      Haha thanks sam. Have to bring in a little bit of humor right?

7 Responses to How To Figure Out What You Want To Do With Your Life (Part 1)

  1. Dani Hart says:

    Great post Ben! It is amazing how many
    people are satisfied with mediocrity. It kills me when I hear people say “I
    could never do that” or “It pays the bills”. The greatest successes are 99
    times out of 100 the biggest risks… so let’s all get risky!

  2. Alysha Marie says:

    You took my idea and understood where I was going with it immediately.

    U sir get it!

    At 24 I aspire to be more like you & I’ll have you know I plan to open that damn coffee shop!

    Currently taking applications for investors :)

    Ohh & FYI the homemade bagels & cream cheeses are going to be fab!

  3. [...] My first step of advice is to take as many internships you can while still in school. You don't have a lot of financial responsibility yet (assumption) so you can take some risk by interning at startups. Learn a skill… sales, marketing, development whatever and become a master. You're not going to just launch a company right away (if you do that's awesome), but LEARN AS MUCH AS YOU CAN from someone else who's building a company. I recommend reading this blog post I wrote on how to figure out what you want to do with your life. [...]

  4. Sam says:

    Opening paragraph is priceless. Love it. Thanks.