Remember when you were 15, and just couldn’t wait to turn 16? Or when you made it past 16, and were counting down the days to 18 and the “freedom” that college provides? Then it was 21, and really being an “adult,” followed by really being an adult and graduating college and hitting the ‘real world.’
But, what happens when those milestones have come and gone? When we’re at our “real jobs” with our college days far behind us? When weeknights have turned into cooking and cleaning and early bedtimes?
What happens when you look around at your life and wonder…. “Now what?”
Do we just look forward to our next vacation, or retirement? Sure, there are still big milestones ahead of us – promotions, and weddings, and maybe children someday. But, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t struggle with feeling a bit trapped in the tedium of a routine. Blame it on being a millennial, call it a first-world problem – say what you will. Except, it’s not that I don’t like my job, or going to work, because I do.
For me, it’s more of an unfulfilled need for adventure; a restless feeling that comes with monotony. Maybe you don’t like your job, or you just plain don’t feel challenged and fulfilled by it. Or maybe you feel like you’re settling, and not living up to your potential. Whatever it may be – take a deep breath with me. Because, you want to know something?
No matter what comes with your “now what?” It’s going to be okay.
First step’s first, don’t compare your hustle to someone else’s highlight reel.
If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it phrased a hundred different ways. But, this one that I heard on one of my favorite podcasts (shoutout to The Ladygang!) has hit me harder than the bus that mowed down Regina George in Mean Girls. Social media puts the thief of joy at our fingertips – and that sucks sometimes. But, if it takes a social media detox – or a daily mantra – to remind yourself that we all only put our best face forward to the world? Do that. Do whatever it takes. And just don’t beat yourself up for feeling inadequate or behind. There is enough sun to shine on everyone, I promise.
Take Atticus‘ advice – and go in search of life. Even if it’s only to your own backyard.
You’ve hit those major milestones that the world expects you to reach, but what about your own milestones? Yeah, I’m talking about that bucket list of things you’ve always wanted to do, food you’ve always wanted to try, places you’ve always wanted to see. Dust it off, and take a good look at it. I mean actually write it out – whether it is by hand, or on your phone/computer – and make it current. I would suggest maybe even making two lists: a short-term (local) list, and a long-term list. Start planning for some of the big things and giving yourself something to look forward to; and when you start feeling that nagging restlessness, cross something small off the short-term list. Reach your own milestones.
Stop looking for wholeness inside your routine.
Your job doesn’t define you. Your age doesn’t define you. Y O U define you. The things you love and are passionate about define you. How you treat others defines you. I shared my thoughts on this in a previous post but the words still ring true. The thing you love may not pay enough to cover the bills – but how lucky are we to live in a world where technology makes it possible to pursue passion projects on top of our 8-5? But, if you are drowning in your career path, and feel like it may not be your path long-term – don’t be afraid to adjust your sails. There is nothing that says the path you’re on must stay your path.
“Now what?” doesn’t have to be a sad or daunting question, and it only is if we allow it to be so.
It’s all about perspective. Being a Christian, I have found great hope in Psalm 37:4, “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” When we focus on the making the most of the (seemingly) little and mundane things – it adds up. When you start to ask yourself, “now what?” Allow yourself to see the finer details, not just the big picture; remember that there’s so much more to life.
After all – life’s not the mountain tops, it’s the walking in between.