A very spontaneous and honest post for you today – but I need your help. I hope this post won’t come across as ungrateful, but instead like I’m looking at who I am, and where I am, and trying to improve.
So, my epically First World Problem is that my life is too easy. I know, I’m cringing too at how bad that sounds, but bear with me….
I’ve saved hard and always lived within my means so I’ve never had to worry about money. I work online (which took courage and hard work at the start) so I get to live in paradise where my income goes a very long way. If I earned double what I earn now I really don’t think I would change much about my life. I have a wonderful boyfriend, supportive family, etc etc, and I’m incredibly lucky (or hardworking depending on whether you believe in luck). BUT all this fortune and happiness is killing my motivation! I’m trying to write down “big goals” and dream of a future perfect life where I live in a massive mansion with 5 dogs and a closet of designer handbags… but I just don’t think that’s what I want. I kind of want things to stay as they are.
So, this is where you come in. I’d LOVE to know what your dreams are – what do you WANT from life and who do you want to be? I’m looking for inspiration on where I can picture myself heading, and then I can start to put into place actions to get me there. I totally agree with all the theory of writing down specific goals, and then working out how to make them reality, but I just don’t know what my goals are. I know I want to continue to be self sufficient finacially, travel a bit, own a dog, meditate daily, etc, but none of those feel very ‘big’.
Maybe I want to be a full time youtuber… but perhaps that’s not as good as it looks! If I had makeup lines and magazine covers I’d lose some of the flexibility and freedom I enjoy now, and it could put stress on my relationships or health. Similarly, I don’t think I want a huge house and loads of clothes. Right now I feel like I’d be happy just living near the sea in a cosy little home, being a minimalist thrifter, and having time to do a dance class once a week. It’s hard to imagine where I should dream from here…
So – please please comment below with what your goals are or any advice you have to help me get out of this (very privileged!) predicament. Love you guys xoxo
You know, I have been meaning to write something similar to this, but I am taking a blog break so I dont know when it will be. Anyway, I dont have a big dream either. I work in a job I love which pays peanuts (Im a health care assistant) but I couldnt imagine doing anything else. I am married to the most loving husband and live in a rented house with three cats. Eventually I would love to own our own place, and I enjoy going on holiday and spending time with him. Apart from that though I dont have any huge ambitions and I am happy with that. Sorry thats not helpful!!
Haha. Not helpful at all but really nice to hear! Glad I’m not the only one. I was such an ambitious teenager but I guess I’m starting to realise there’s more to life. Would love a bit of fire back in my belly though!! Don’t want to look back and regret not achieving more…
My prayer or my goal each day is to be a blessing to others. Often this involves putting myself out or changing my plans but to bring joy to someone even in a small way brings great satisfaction of a day well spent. Maybe find a project Lou or a selection of people and go all out to enhance their lives, some v slowly some more quickly but over a long period of time. Invest in them, face their battles and make a difference. But as you well know I think you are lovely just as you are!!!!
Well you certainly achieve that! I was wondering after I wrote this whether I need more “help others” motivators as the main reason I want our company to grow is so our employees can earn a lot! Interesting to think about for sure…
I find big goals really hard nowadays. I had 4 big ones since I was like 15 (not related to us becoming friends haha!);
– earn enough so that if my car breaks down I can pay to have it fixed (happened about 2 years ago)
– become a qualified accountant (also just over 2 years ago)
– live in London (completed over 1.5 years ago)
– buy a motorbike (got my 125 just under a year ago)
– get my full motorbike licence (done this Summer!)
I’m now at a bit of a point where everything is ‘next goal’ land. Like, another promotion, another £5k, a bigger bike, go somewhere else on my holiday list. That kind of thing.
I’m really struggling to find my big goals. Other than a boyfriend (feels weird writing that, like I neeeed a man, which obvs I don’t, just would be nice) I think everything else is just like icing on the cake.
Beyond that… no idea. Maybe a cause to believe in and support? Just something that will impact my life that will take time, courage and effort to achieve. I wonder if it’s a millennial thing. We want things other than just ‘more’. Don’t get me wrong, I still want those promotions and pay rises (you know me!) but those all come with just being good at what I do.
So also unhelpful really. Sorry. But you’re really not alone, and I don’t know where to start.
Maybe that can be your new goal. Find out how you can help those of us searching for more and bigger goals. Thanking you in advance 😉
Wow – surprised to hear this from you. Really helpful! Maybe we have just all peaked to early! I’m sure I’ll want more money when I have kids, but only enough for security. If you have too much you’re constantly trying not spoil them and keep them normal. Sigh!
Really helpful to know though – thanks so much!!
Louise! This is a wonderful question, and it brings up thoughts that plague me from time to time, though I think sometimes I step too far on the other side. If I were totally honest with myself, I’d say that some of my deepest ego-boosting fantasies would involve doing creative work that gets huge or famous. Writing a novel that becomes a movie, creating beloved characters through art, stumbling on a great app idea and getting mega-famously rich. Oh, wouldn’t that be nice! To have all those people think you’re smart/funny/talented/etc/blank? To be externally validated by the world?
But then these fantasies start to feel hollow, and I remind myself that those paths will always involve sacrifice of some sort, and you can’t always predict what that will be. And the truth seems to be that even if those things came to pass and they felt really really good for awhile, ultimately that prestige and honor and fame would fade, and you’d acclimate to your new circumstances, and then you’d desire something greater all over again. And then there’s the problem of having one’s desire for validation/money/fame distract from the work itself or even kill the joy to create. I struggled with that a bit with my art years ago and still do occasionally. There was a famous writer (I forget his name) who called his fame and wealth ‘boring’, which I found very interesting.
When I look beyond the superficiality of those dreams I always seem to come back to that same unglamorous wisdom; that the best things we can hope for in life are to make good work for its own sake and to enjoy the process, to enjoy the little ordinary moments in life, and to enjoy the people you have around you have at the present moment. (Ha! Can you tell I’m a big meditator too?) It’s easy to forget all that with there being so much pressure to succeed. I wish for myself I could remember it more, and perhaps the older I get, the easier that will be.
I don’t think your post is ungrateful at all. It’s refreshingly honest and I think being happy with where you are and what you have is a trait that you should be proud of. Having big aspirations isn’t necessarily a virtue, and having small ones doesn’t have to be a flaw.
Thanks so much effie. It’s interesting because I’ve always thought if you’re not hungry you won’t achieve. I don’t think many famous celebrities or writers were just enjoying the moment. But maybe they were! They just loved what they did so it consumed them and eventually succeeded. It’s a tough one!
But I am at least very thankful to be happy. And am hoping it continues indefinitely!
Also… Really must meditate more – thanks for the reminder!
So maybe the problem is that you have reached your goals already? And sometimes what we think we should have doesn’t actually make us happy, I’m living in London, earning a great wage and really good at my job… so what?!
I’m planning on taking a step back to almost have your life a bit more.. for me it came to me thinking what do I what to remember about my life in the future, when I’m a parent or a grandparent to tell children. You’re already doing that!
So maybe don’t aim to change anything in your life for next few years, because you’ve got what we all aspire to have. Maybe instead think of what you want you life to be in 30’s. Maybe YouTube land won’t last forever and you won’t care about fashion in your 40s! What other hobby or thing can you start honing in on the side so when the time comes to ‘settle’ you’ve got some more tricks up your sleeve? Or go for a totally new career?!
To be fair, I know many people who are having ‘quarter life crisis’…. I’ve achieved what I set out to do after uni… NOW WHAT?!
I like the idea of starting something off for the future. I agree things WILL change eventually – we’ll need more money and we won’t want as much travel. So I guess we should just revel in it! Hoping I won’t enjoy things for so long i forget to prepare for the next steps!
So excited to hear about your changes and get to see you home soon Xoxo
Hey gorgeous – your dream is your dream. Perhaps you’re living your dream right now and you should feel incredibly lucky. No one can teach you to dream big. Essentially what I’m saying is I could go on and tell you all of my dream but that’s not your dream, it’s mine. When I have achieved it, it wouldn’t feel big any more, perhaps like where you are right now.
Got your back, always x
Awwww thank you my love. Yeah I’ve achieved what to a lot of people seems totally unattainable, so now I’m ready for the next thing… Just not sure what that is!!
Hey Louise! Interesting post.. I think lots of people feel that way. On the other hand, all the goals you mentioned that you don’t care about are focused on getting things for yourself. You’re right that beyond a certain point, getting more money/stuff/etc is unlikely to make you any happier. But what about others? Not everyone starts in a place where it’s possible for them to achieve this kind of thing without someone else’s help.
Whatever form it takes, I think a more ambitious goal would be to help others achieve what you’ve achieved, or at least get closer to it. Here’s a podcast episode for some inspiration 🙂
Yeah I have been wondering the same. The most exciting part of picturing what life would be like if our company takes off is that we could make our employees rich. Maybe I need to recalibrate on that…
Great post, Louise!
This is something I’ve been thinking about just a few days ago.
It’s a bit different for me as I’m not earning enough money to be able to live from passive income yet. Anyway, I sort of asked myself why I have to be ambitious, why I have to make exhausting efforts to achieve some big goals that I have? And they’re not even that big… I’m happy with what my life have become though I keep wondering why (or how) people who achieve great things all have had those wowing personal background & stories? I don’t have exceptional background or stories, will I ever make a difference? And so on, and so on.
In the end I just realized that I’m afraid of not being able to keep up with happiness, that future will dramatically change, that I won’t be able to adapt to that future, because I am not ambitious enough.
It’s sometimes exhausting and I still don’t know what to do with this. I guess it will become better with age…
Very true… What I want most if all is to have the income and skills to be able to handle anything that might come!
Hi Louise, I have never been a great one for personal goals, just to take as many opportunities as I can. I have learned in the last year to do less and ‘be’ more and reflecting on my life so far I would say that my greatest joys and satisfaction have come from my children and what I have done for other people.
So I would say forget goals and just make every day count by making a difference to someone each day.
You’re the second person to say this – maybe it’s a sign! Time to refocus myself on other people perhaps….
I think one of the problems we have in society is the constant need for progression and change etc etc. If your life is at the moment your “perfect” then just try and live in it. The saying don’t fix what’s not broken comes to mind. Yes dreams can be useful and inspiring but I don’t think they are necessary either.
I think you might be right! I’m sure a huge opportunity, or disaster, is right around the corner so I might just try and enjoy where I am while it lasts.
My first questions for you would be:
Why is it important for you to improve?
And how will you know that you have improved?
A lot of people struggle with ‘small stuff’ like ‘what should be my next goal’ or ‘what would make me more happy’.
I’m a graduating coach and you might benefit from hiring one.
Feel free to pm on facebook (we’re friends) me for a free session (without a sales pitch) 😉
I should have some time in the second week of December.
Thanks so much – very poignant questions! Definitely going to mull this over… never really thought about it before.
Hey Louise. I’ve been thinking a lot about your blog post. I read through the comments and while I agreed with many of the things people said, none of the advice really resonated with me. It felt like we were all treating your symptoms (helping people will make you feel better, saving for the future will reduce feelings of anxiety, etc.), without addressing the underlying problem (not dreaming, losing motivation, not having ‘big goals’).
And the common thread in the comments showed you aren’t alone in feeling this way. I thought it was wonderful how people opened up and admitted they too felt this way. Hell, I’m pretty sure everyone feels this way at some point in their lives (assuming they have the privilege to worry about things beyond day-to-day survival).
So I thought to myself, okay, why don’t I feel this way anymore? And while I really wanted to help, I couldn’t articulate what it was that I even wanted to say. Huh. So I deleted what I’d typed and hoped for future inspiration.
Then today I stumble across this video and it deeply struck a nerve. I initially thought it was about programming. Yet as the speaker, Bret Victor, continued on I realized he’s actually talking about a philosophy. His philosophy. Or as he puts it, his “principle”. And while his philosophy is deeply cool on it’s own, he offered up an even larger idea. That finding your own principle was itself a solution to this greater problem of not dreaming.
I’m badly paraphrasing his talk, but he correctly identifies why most people don’t find a solution to this problem: they form their identity around a skill. I’m a doctor, or a lawyer, or an engineer. I fix things. I solve problems. I help people. But I can tell you from my own experience, this isn’t satisfying. Sure, you might earn power, prestige, or even money this way, but it still leaves you feeling empty inside.
But a principle offers deeper guidance. A principle draws a line between the way the world is now and the way you want the world to be in the future. Dreaming big ends up being a side effect of seeing the difference. Big goals are simply markers along your path from A to B.
So, my advice to you is to a) watch this video and b) stop focusing on creating goals or worrying about not having big dreams. Instead focus on thinking about what your principles are. Because once you know your principles, the rest will follow.
And if there’s anything I can do to help, please just ask. I know we haven’t been friends for very long, and are quite often separated by time and space, but I do know that you are special, have incredible depth, and will go far in life. Life is a journey that is best shared with friends and I’m honored to be yours. 🙂
Inventing on Principle
by Bret Victor
Wow – thanks so much for this Sean. Massively hit the nail on the head. It’s really encouraging to hear that I’m not the only one, but also really good to get productive feedback for solutions. Watched the whole video (including all the coding which was pretty fascinating!!) and really like the idea of coming up with a Principle. Think it’s much easier said than done! Do you think you have one? I was wondering about “making ethical living affordable” as that kind of combines everything I’m passionate about. Although since this post I’ve decided to apply myself more to the “nomad girl” segment of the internet and inspiration so perhaps it doesn’t cover that very well? Working on it!
Making ethical living affordable sounds like a great principle. You don’t have to limit yourself to just one either. Also, you can change your principles as you yourself change. I used to think I could save the world by working in politics and rooted many of my principles around that identity. Then later I realized that wasn’t actually how the world worked, so I changed my principles.
Hmm, what are my principles? I don’t think I’ve ever written them down before, so I’ll just list the ones that come to mind. See, I’m mostly driven by gut feelings rather than conscious logic, so I usually have to tease out ‘the why’ of my actions after the fact. 🙂
But in general, I try to live by a simple truth: If I do something, I should be okay with everyone else in the world also doing it. I think this is based on Immanuel Kant’s categorical imperative, but I’ve kinda adapted it into my own personal philosophy. Would I want to live in a world where everyone is selfish and arrogant? Nope. So I guess I will be kind and try to understand where people are coming from before reaching conclusions. One of the reasons I reject the idea of stereotypes (besides not being based on scientific facts!) is how horrible I imagine the world would be if everyone abided by them. So, what would happen if everyone in the world were traveling, living free and chasing their dreams? I think pretty good things.
Another principle I follow: If I have the ability to *easily* help someone, I have an ethical obligation to do so. Like, if someone is having a computer problem that I can fix it in 5 minutes, but it would take them 10+ hours on their own, I will help them. I say easily, because I think it’s dangerous to fall into a pattern of only helping other people (and not doing anything else) if you don’t put some qualifier on it.
And lastly (to stop this response from turning into a book), I seek balance in all things. The world can be viewed in many different ways, but the most helpful model I’ve found is one where things balance themselves out eventually. There are forces at work that are usually outside of our control, and it’s easy to assume everything is chaos unless you understand and follow this principle. Trump gets elected? Yeah, that sucks, but things will come back around. Am I partying too much and not working? Time to take a break and focus on work for awhile. No matter how big or how small, everything wants to be in balance, so you have an edge when you naturally seek balance in your own life and actions.
Anyway, don’t stress too much on coming up with your principles. Most likely, you already have them and just need to observe yourself to become conscious of them. But once you have them (even roughly) defined, goals and dreams become natural extensions if you follow them to their logical conclusions.
Your answer was very much in you very first question. your life is too easy, there is no challenge, no inspiration, no creativity. Dreaming big seems to be just a bigger version of what you already have and there is nothing interesting for you there. You can go bigger, but learned to live within your means.
Then what? What do you give to the (wo)man that has it all? A challenge, an opportunity to a new perspective. That what sparks your creative mind. now, where to find it?
Coming from a pauper background in a rural place where nobody ever went anywhere, it was easy to set a goal that involved money, welbeing and travel. They were the opposites of what I had. Now all these years later, i’ve been there, done that. gained it all, lost it all and gained it all again. Well that is as you said, while living within my means. Although my minimum requirements, sort of speak, became less, I felt so much more rich. And there I was, where you are now.
For me a new perspective came quite literally by looking through a new lens, of a camera. Starting to look at things with more attention, slower, more methodically. Not knowing where to start, subject, style, etc, I started shooting everything, trying to find out what could work for me. Starting by seeing more of the same, that I knew didn’t cut it. Where was my inspiration? why could I not find it? I seriously had no idea.
The more I shot, the more I talked about it with friends, the more I realised that I was finding what I wanted to do. Being told that all this travelling, the good food I was cooking (recipes from abroad), the massage techniques I was learning and practicing, all that was inspiring others to do something similar. And THAT was what really made me happy. Sharing it and inspiring creativity. Funnily enough, that was exactly my trademark when working in IT. As consultant I was always happy when I transferred my knowledge to my client and could leave, knowing all was well. Never caring that keeping knowledge behind could possibly keep me on assignments longer. That attitude kept clients calling back btw.
Right now I am reading a book on Wilbur and Orville Wright, pioneers of flight, the brothers that made the first aircraft heavier that air that could fly. There was no need for them to do it, other than pure curiosity on solving the puzzle of “a bird can fly, why can’t I”. Inspired by others like Otto Lilienthal, they set off and combined knowledge of the stuff they knew and hunted for information on stuff they didn’t know. Many unsuccessful attempts later, they came up with something that worked. In their book it was clear that these two brilliant men loved the challenge.
So right now, after 2 decades of working as IT consultant whilst travelling the world, I am out there again on a new adventure. Just for pleasure, inspiring others, but mainly myself. Fortunately I have learned that my negatives, anxieties etc are a great opportunity to learn about myself. They now inspire me to try new things and create new experiences. So find what sparks you, if needed in what is opposite from what you are and enjoy the ride.
Thanks so much for this Peter! So thrilled to hear you found a new lease of life and inspiration in learning things 🙂 I’ve been mulling it over and got a lot of new projects on my mind now! Follow up blog post coming soon 😉 Thanks for the inspiration!
I believe that everyone of us has different lives and different situation in life. Maybe some of the people are dreaming of your life blessings today, but some maybe not. My goal in life is just simple, find some enough money for my family, through working online too. Through working online, I can manage my time with my family. Working is still not enough for me. I want someday to have a good business not really big one, but a business that follows my interest, just like a clothing boutique. I want to work and have a good business so that I can give also to those people who are in need. Mostly, I want to become a successful mommy for my son, wife for my husband and being a good person that God wants me to be. That’s what I dreamed of. For me, dreaming is just simple, just follow your heart, talk to God and surely you will know what is your dream all about. Happy Holidays to you!