Deciding What To Do With Your Life (Without Actually Deciding)
I was two weeks into my job in Cape Town when a colleague asked me what I wanted to do with my life. I swiftly replied with “This!” At the time, ‘this’ referred to the job I had as a Social Media Manager for Fortune 100 companies. I loved what I was doing and enjoyed all aspects of Social Media, so I expected to be helping clients leverage it for as long as I could. His response was that my interests would change and that I was too young (18) to have anything like that set in stone. I laughed inside about how wrong he was. Now, two years later, I’m laughing at how wrong I was. Even if you offered me $10,000 per month, after tax, to work with some awesome clients as their ‘Social Media Guy,’ I would turn you down instantly. There were a few reasons for falling out of love with the industry, some of the bigger ones being:
- Most corporations, especially the big ones, are too scared to try anything different. Two years ago, most aspects of Social Media were very different to the norm. They still are now.
- Almost all suggestions had to go through managers, a legal team, executives and so on. It could take months to get approval on anything.
- Many clients had the “we won’t change, but we still want results” attitude. Even if they refused every single suggestion I had, they still wanted to see a traffic spike at the end of the month. And, despite my arguing, so did my superiors.
My Story (You Can Skip This)When it comes to making money online, I’ve been the most helpful guy in the world (creating support websites, writing blog posts) and I’ve been the most devious guy in the world (creating bots to leverage honest communities). I’ve literally done more “blackhat” stuff than is written in any forum, and probably sold the scripts to people who do that kind of thing now. For the first few months after the realisation I no longer wanted clients, I went blackhat. I’m talking about ranking no.1 for every term on Technorati (a blog search engine) and getting 15,000 visitors per day from Twitter. You can even throw in my manipulation of Youtube to get my videos on their homepage. I worked on my own and conjured every idea alone. I didn’t do anything illegal, but I know it wasn’t ethical. I was making money, but it wasn’t fun and I was still feeling unfulfilled. At the time I was also running an internet marketing blog which was genuinely helpful to people and did make money, but I didn’t like to rely on it. I also didn’t want to be the internet marketer who only ran an internet marketing blog. For a few weeks I stressed about where to go. I wanted out of the blackhat stuff and I wanted to help people. My frustration was occuring around the same time I met Diggy and Alex who really motivated me on the path of self-improvement. We would talk about this stuff night and day. Alex literally has a file with hundreds of pages of notes on everything about life which he read like a bible. I loved the idea, and wanted to do the same. Instead of writing notes in a book however, I decided I would blog about it. The culmination of two things that I love – blogging and self improvement – made perfect sense. Soon after I started PluginID and couldn’t be happier with what I have built here. I wasn’t a very good writer when I started, but clearly showed in the first post how I had been longing for a passion; a direction: At this moment in time I’m very excited, for the last 19 years I’ve been finding it difficult to know what it is I want to do, I’ve been finding it difficult to understand my passion. Here I was trying to convey my excitement at having a new project to work on. Something that made a lot of sense to me internally and something I knew I could do well with. Hey, I did say my writing was poor back then.
Just Do Something (Don’t Skip This)If you’ve read my story or not, it doesn’t matter, here’s where you come in. Right now, you could say working on PluginID is what I want to do with my life. It is, I love it. However, you could say that two years ago becoming a Social Media Manager is what I should have done with my life. It was, and I did. The thing is, so many people feel like they need to know a perfect idea or have a brilliant opportunity before stepping away from the norm and doing what they want to do. I won’t say that they expect a path to just open up in front of them, but they certainly don’t go looking for it. My advice to the question of “what should I do with my life?” is simply: follow whatever interests you most. When I was 18 and sitting in front of a computer screen being offered a job in Cape Town, I wasn’t worried about my total life path. I wasn’t worried about whether it was my ‘calling’ or I was ruining my chance at other opportunities that may present themselves. Instead, I simply wanted to know: does this interest me more than other options? At the time, a job in South Africa looked far more appealing than another year in college, so I followed it up. It wasn’t like a lightning bolt struck me one day and I knew what my purpose in life was. I simply saw an open door that looked more attractive than the others, so I walked through it.
Don’t Decide on AnythingDecision is such a clear cut word in my opinion. To me it sounds like once a decision has been made, that should be it. No turning back. If you want to live your life like that then feel free, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Hopefully some of you who read the last paragraph will know what to do now. You will realise you just need to start doing something, and the rest of the doors along the way will open up. Some of you, however, will have aims which are a little more ‘serious’ and require some additional thought. This could be enrolling on a three year university course, taking out a loan to travel the world, or something else you deem an option. Some of you will even have multiple routes to take in your life right now and not be sure which one to take. Thankfully I know how to deal with that, as I was in the same situation. After three months in South Africa, I was preparing to go home for a few months (for Christmas and New Year) and then decide whether I wanted to go back for one year. I honestly had no idea what to do. I had loved my time in the country, but wasn’t sure if I could handle a year there. I did all I knew to do at the time, and picked up a pen and paper. I wrote down the positives of going back, versus the negatives of going back. There were more positives on my list, so I went back. It really was that simple.
Here’s What To DoIf you still aren’t sure what step to take next in your life then I need to work on my writing skills. Just for clarification, here’s a summary.
- Just Do Something – You can’t follow a path you don’t know about, so stop trying to find it. Instead, look at the options you have in life now, and follow one of them. Even if it’s not something you want to do forever, just go down that road. I guarantee that this will open more doors and opportunities for you than doing nothing.
- Don’t Decide on Anything – By this I simply mean, don’t feel like any option has to be clear cut. I thought I would be doing Social Media for clients for years to come, and I was wrong. Now, let’s say I wanted to prove my colleague wrong and pursue it for life, even though I hated it. How stupid would that be?
- Take the Next Step – Whatever is in your mind after all of this, just do it. Stop looking for the answer in ‘life purpose tests’ or ‘What job should I get?’ Facebook Quizzes. Seriously, get out there and do it. If you need my support or advice, feel free to email me or comment. I’m pretty sure that you’ll have a good idea in your mind.