I just spent 2 hours writing a post about figuring out what to do with my life. It was slow, boring, and the ending didn't make any sense. Like a tortoise doing a strip tease. I deleted it.
Instead of writing about the things I'm still figuring out - I thought I'd write something about what I've learned so far in the last year. I get a lot of emails and messages at the moment from people who envy this travelling thing that I'm doing and who would love to do the same thing. Maybe this will help someone.
I've written in the past about how whenever I get too comfortable, I make a big change in my life and I look for a new challenge. These are the lessons I've learned from doing this.
First: Who you are is more important than what you do.
I've only figured this one out recently. Really the question isn't "what do I want to do with my life?" - it's "who do I want to be in my life?". The perspective of the question changes the answer. The former is loaded, and leaves you with a mandatory fixed path for the rest of your existence. The latter is wide open. There are an infinite number of ways to be who you want to be, that aren't limited by your work.
Who do you want to be? This is the root of your own happiness.
Second: There is nothing you're "supposed" to be doing with your life.
Stop beating yourself to death with it. You can force the issue as much as you like inside your own head. It's not going to get you anywhere. The notion that there's "one thing" out there that's right for us is as silly as the notion that there's only "one person" for everyone. The difficulty with a career is the same as the difficulty with a relationship. After a certain number of years, you get comfortable. It's easier to stay where you are than to give it all up and start over again. Think of your work as a girlfriend. Does she make you happy enough to marry her?
If you aren't completely happy - maybe it's time for change.
Third: It's never the "right" time for change.
You will never be ready. You will never have enough money. You will never reach some magical point in your life where the universe says "Ok bro, now is the moment, go for it. lol." There will always be huge barriers to making a change in your life. Don't think that everyone else falls into doing that-thing-you-want-to-do by luck or chance. They fought to get there. There is no right time to go freelance, to start a company, to change career, to find a better relationship, to travel the world, to move to a new country. There never will be.
If you want something - don't wait for a sign. Make a decision.
Fourth: Every decision has sacrifices.
People often tell me they're jealous of my lifestyle. Particularly when I'm posting photos of kiteboarding in sunny locations - which seems to attract particularly loud choruses of "go fuck yourself". The reality is that most people want the positives of this lifestyle, but they will never be willing to make the sacrifices. I don't see family, I don't see friends, I gave up my dog (who I love more than anything), I don't own any personal posessions beyond my camera, laptop, and kite (at all), I don't watch TV, I don't have a place to call home, I don't know where my next paycheque will come from, I have no way of having a serious relationship with anyone, I can't buy anything, and there is never anyone around me who I've known for longer than a few weeks. The bigger the benefits of what you want, the bigger the sacrifices will inevitably be.
Everything comes at a price. You have to be willing to pay it.
Fifth: You will never be sure
I wasn't sure about going into web design after studying music at university. I wasn't sure about leaving my agency job to start freelancing. I definitely wasn't sure about selling everything I owned to travel the world. In fact, I was completely fucking terrified on every occasion that it was going to be a huge mistake. Even once you've got past the timing and the sacrifices and you've made the decision... You still won't be sure. Sometimes you'll feel like you're crazy and, helpfully, others will often confirm this for you. People are afraid of change, including you. The question is whether or not you can overcome it.
Leap of faith required.