"I hate my job and I don't know what I'm doing with my life. I want to travel/have babies/get married/buy a house/change my career, but I don't know how / I can't / I'm scared."
Sound familiar? I've had thoughts like these many, many times. I have friends who are having these thoughts now. Perhaps you are, too.
We have good-paying jobs yet feel unfulfilled. We feel like we can't get into the housing market. We long to see far-away lands. We long to hold a lover's hand, or a newborn child.
In 2012, when my thoughts reached a boiling point, here's how I solved my crisis:
1) SIT AND THINK
|Just don't sit like this. ha ha|
This worked years ago when I couldn't figure out what to major in after high school. I took a long time-out one afternoon, sat down, and thought about what subjects I liked in high school, what activities I enjoyed doing, and what topics I loved to read about. Answer: I loved Television class! In fact, I loved it so much I took it two years in a row in high school, just because. So I majored in it and became a news Editor.
It worked again last year when I didn't know where to set up a new life, after becoming single. I had all sorts of cities in mind. But one quiet morning during my Italy vacation, I sat having a cigarette and absorbing the ambience around me. In one electrifying moment, it clicked in my head: Europe.
Take an hour or two to sit and think. When the right answer pops into your mind during a moment of silence, you will know. You will feel it in your body, and the answer will stick with you from then on.
2) MAKE A PLAN WITH STEPS
Figure out a plan with actual, concrete steps. If you were headed somewhere and needed directions, you'd go on Google Maps, and IT lists steps. So should you.
3) FIND EXPERTS, EVEN IF YOU MUST PAY
"Experts" are those who are doing exactly what you want to do, have information to help you, or who are pursuing their dreams.
Interestingly, the first group of people may be the hardest to find, because people pursue dreams similar to yours, but in different ways. They may have a different background or living situation, for example. Seek them out anyway.
The second group, those who have information to help you, may include: financial advisors, relationship experts, psychologists, language teachers, etc. For their help, you might have to pony up a bit of cash. But they are experts, and sometimes you need to make a small investment to make sure you're on the right track to your dream.
The third group are people who are just like you, albeit with different dreams. These people are important because the energy they are using to pursue their dreams can strongly influence your energy. I believe in surrounding myself with people who have positive qualities I either want or already have. When I see my friends pursue their dreams with a good, focused attitude, it rejeuvenates me.
4) ACCEPT REFINING YOUR PLAN
When I came up with a plan to move to Spain, my original idea was to apply for a youth work holiday visa, clear out my apartment, pack my bags, and leave -- all within the span of a few months. My Spain friends talked sense into me (see what I mean about experts?), reminding me that there was una crisis, and trying to find work once in Spain would probably be fruitless.
I accepted that I could not leave Canada as quickly as I'd hoped. I slowed my plan down, went to school to make my CV look better, found three employment programs online (including NALCA), and my plan stretched from a few months to a year. But financially and stress-wise, it's been worth it.
5) DON'T WORRY ABOUT DROPPING THE PLAN
Don't worry if you end up dropping your dream. My goals in life used to change all the time - Bodybuilding competition! Fluent in French! Work for the Canadian government! Move to Mexico! Move to Hawaii! Then I'd lose interest after a few months. With the Spain plan, I noticed I stuck to it and my passion to do it never waivered. That's when I knew it was the plan for me. If it's meant to be your dream, you will keep pursuing it, even if it means sacrifices - saving money, losing money, moving away from loved ones. If it's meant to be your dream, you will gladly accept these sacrifices.