IN college, everything is practically spelled out for you. But after the diploma is in your hands, you have to figure things out by yourself! Many young people struggle with vague goals or no goals at all. Is there a curriculum for a good life? If so, what does it look like and where can one find it? Finally, how can one tell that he or she has “arrived”?
Viewed this way, college has been a comfort zone of sorts. In “real life,” we are tossed into uncharted territory. Thus we feel bewildered, anxious or frustrated. Therefore, we need arrows that will point us to the right direction. May I propose these three guide questions:
1. What do you want to do?
2. What can you do well?
3. What impact can you do to society?
Thus, your first question is not “What do I do now?” The starting point is “What do I want to do?” I would suggest you take three sheets of paper. On one sheet, write down all the things you love to do, such as: “I want to travel (to where?)”, “I want to teach (what?)”, “I want to help people by...”
Now start filling up the second sheet with the things that you do well. For example, “I can express myself clearly”, “I am a great planner and coordinator”, “I am good in numbers” and so on. Family, friends and co-workers can help validate your talents and strengths.
Then find common grounds between the two. You want to be where you are doing what you love to do and are very good at it. For example, you may be good in numbers but you will be bored in an accounting job, But if, say, you love to teach and those whom you taught attest that they really understood and applied the lesson, then that may be your calling.
The first two questions are self-diagnostic, preparing you to answer the third, “What impact can you do to society?” This one is about relevance. It smuggles a hidden question, “How do you want your life to count?” I love the quotation by Frederick Buechner, “The place where God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
Is there a burden in your heart for other people? If so, in what way? You do not have to make a huge impact like Mother Teresa. Simply be the blessing to wherever you are at, using your unique blend of experiences, passions and skills.
Once you find the blend of all three, you now have a very good idea what to do next. Find that sweet spot where the three arrows point to: what you want to do, what you do well and what you do that will make an impact on the world. That path will go a long way to answer that haunting question: “What do I do now?”
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