What Should I Do With My Life?
We are living through hard times, perhaps the hardest that many of us have experienced. It is during times like these that people are most likely willing to change the course of their lives. In good times, they frequently only talk about change; hard times force them to overcome doubts that otherwise gives them pause.
Regardless whether you are young, middle aged or at the end of a career, if you haven’t seriously considered the existential question that is the title of this piece, you owe it to yourself to do so now. Some of us ponder this question seriously when it comes time to make choices regarding careers, marriage, children, spiritual beliefs; others seem to fall into grooves created by parents, immediate circumstances, or following the lead of a friend or mentor. It isn’t until later in life that they begin to question – is what I’m doing now really what I want to be doing? Is this path that I’m on giving me fulfillment, making me happy?
For any of you who have considered this question before, or are doing so now, I have a strong recommendation. Read the book “What Should I Do With My Life” by Po Bronson (Random House, 2003). The author has written a remarkable book consisting of interviews with 56 people of all ages, ethnicities and backgrounds who provide their personal stories of how they answered this most important question for themselves. The lessons they offer us are varied and affecting. Some stories have happy endings, some do not. All are honest, freed of sentimentality and cliché. Some I found inspiring, some fascinating, and a few cautionary. I have re-read these stories many times, and each time I walk away from the book feeling energized and hopeful. Po says the true search is for what you believe in – what kind of world you want to live in. Happiness is too easy of a test; rather we should ask what will be fulfilling for us. For some searchers, happiness becomes a byproduct when they find something worthwhile to which they can devote their lives.
I have found that the changes that have occurred in my life have come from people I have met, and books I have read. This is definitely one of those books. (Disclosure: I have no personal affiliation with the author or Random House.)