“…if you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you will spend your life completely wasting your time. You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living, that is to go on doing things you don’t like doing, which is stupid.”
- Alan Watts
I went to one of those personal development cults seminars once, and I asked a barrage of questions.
“Shut up,” the seminar leader said,“You already know all the answers inside. You’re just asking me for permission to do what you already know is right. You’re looking for validation. Stop. You don’t need anyone’s permission. When you get an internal sense of what’s right, just go do it. Act, and then see what happens. Adjust your actions depending on the results that you get. When you come across a problem, think for yourself how to solve it, trust in your own judgment. See the world with your own fresh pair of eyes and make your own conclusions from firsthand experience. Don’t just listen to everything that other people tell you. Always question and think critically; other people are no smarter than you are. Listen to others, but think for yourself.”
The best advice I’ve ever gotten in my life is to follow my heart. I think of it like, there’s a guiding compass inside of me, that always knows which direction to go. An inner voice that knows what’s right. I just need to tune into it and trust it.
For example, right after university, I worked in investment banking and hated my life. I hated the lack of freedom, the repetitive tasks, the ass kissing. I knew I wanted to work on my own business. An online business that would let me travel and explore the world. But I didn’t trust myself. I’ve studied so hard to land this job. All my friends were in corporate. How could it possibly be the right move to leave when everyone else was happily working? Wasn’t I living the corporate dream? I kept looking to other people for career advice, when I already knew. It took me 6 months to find the courage. I decided to start my own business – it was the best decision of my life.
There are people telling us how we should live our lives and social conditioning is messing with us everywhere. Work is telling us that climbing the corporate ladder means success in life. Fashion trends are defining what beautiful is. Our social group is making us conform and act in a socially acceptable way.
Humans are tribal creatures; we’re wired to go with the crowd. But just because everyone else believes in something, it does not mean that it’s right. In the past, everyone believed that the earth was flat. We look back and think that’s ridiculous. Now imagine that you’re in the future looking back. Could it be that there are heaps of popular beliefs we hold today that our future selves would think are ridiculous?
We forget to listen to ourselves. Our default state is to listen to others. We spend our lives trying to live up to other people’s expectations, but most people have never sat down and really thought about what they want to do with their lives. And it’s important that we think about it because we only have one life. We only have a limited time on this planet.
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.
You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well worn path; and that will make all the difference.
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