One night after a few bottles of beer, a friend asked me about finding your passion or mission in life: “Do you search for it or does it just stumble towards you one day?“. I said to him that I think it will eventually stumble on you, but in order for this to happen, you need to keep moving
Where are you are going?
Steve Jobs once said in a speech:
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.
I have confirmed this as well and I am pretty sure you can too if you think about it. Imagine yourself 10 years ago. Back then I resigned from my first job, depressed, without any significant savings, not knowing what I want to do with my life. Forward to 10 years and now I have a beautiful family, work that I love, and a good financial foundation.
Looking back, I had no idea that the actions that I took then will land me in where I am today. I left my first job only to find that its difficult for me to find another job that will use my previous experience. That prompted me to “start fresh” again and went to software development. This led me into a string of jobs and opportunities that eventually resulted in a time-independent, fully remote work where I have a significant impact in the company. Along my journey I also met my future wife and new lifelong friends.
During those years when I was switching jobs it certainly did not feel like premeditated actions. I am just going through the flow, taking in changes and opportunities as they arrive. There is no thought on what may happen in the future or if what I am doing is right or wrong.
When we hear about someone who landed a good career, won a prize in a game or a contest, we often say “that person is lucky!“. What is luck anyway? According to a dictionary definition:
luck (noun) – success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions.
Note that the definition says that it is only apparently brought by chance, which means that it may not be the whole truth. On the surface, these successes or failures seem to just happen randomly on the individual but as we think about and analyze the situation, their actions did have a significant impact on their “luck”.
Like a roll of the dice, you can’t expect the outcome to be exactly what you want it to be. You have to roll it a couple of times (often more than you want) before you finally get the result that you desire.
Other people may seem to be “lucky” and get their results in just one or two rolls. But you may never know the number of rolls they have already done in other games that you were not in.
Instead of just aimlessly wandering around, hoping to find your destiny, wouldn’t it be better to just search for it?
Searching for something triggers unconscious biases. If you search long and hard for something, you may find it eventually. However, the results that you get are greatly affected by your mindset.
Let’s say you are madly in love with someone, or have been through a break-up. Suddenly the world seems to constantly remind you of the other person. The radio suddenly plays your song. You play a random game and one of the characters has the same name of the other person, and so on. In reality these events are just normal occurrences, but since your mind is fixated on the other person, anything that remotely reminds you of him/her gets front seat in your head.
If you want to convince yourself that you want a certain path, you actually don’t need convincing at all.
Letting it go
Instead of actively searching, I think it is better to just let life unfold. Trying hard to aim and grasp at something sometimes result in tragedy. This may sound fatalistic, but it is better for your mind if you learn to let go and let the events happen as they should be.
If you suddenly have an opportunity in life, don’t think too much about it. If your gut tells you to move forward, then take the opportunity. It may result in a failure, but when you look back decades from now, that opportunity may be the key to land you where you want to be.
To see opportunities, you cannot just lie down and wait for the universe to hand your destiny to you. Opportunities (and “luck”) happen only to people who are moving. Even if you can’t see any obvious signs of an opportunity right now, continue where you are on. Continue working at your job. Continue doing what life has been giving to you right now. Eventually, a path will open up to you but you need to keep moving to see that path.
For weeks I have been struggling on what to post this month. I have been thinking of topics that I want to write about but I can’t seem to get any ideas. Then one random night with a friend solved my problem when he asked the question: “Do you search for it or does it just stumble towards you one day?“.
Photo by David Marcu on Unsplash