Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes, 2s.
A little over nine years ago, I declined a few full-time job offers to devote a year to researching and experimenting with productivity advice. Fast-forward, and I’m grateful and proud of the work I’ve created, including a couple of books and an Audible Original on the topic. My third book—the best one yet (in my opinion)—comes out in January 2023. I’m excited to share more soon!
There’s a reason why I bring this up. For all the milestones and markers of success along my journey, I’ll be honest: at the beginning, it often felt as though I hadn’t made the right call.
This is not to say I had regrets about declining those jobs—I knew there was always a chance my productivity project would land butter side down and I’d be stuck working in a job I found unfulfilling. But even with this pessimism, I was okay with that downside risk. Still, my decision to dedicate a year to productivity experiments filled me with self-doubt and I couldn’t shake the feeling that, on some level, I had made a mistake. During one worried frenzy, I still remember what my then-girlfriend-now-wife said to me: “you’re not as lost as you think you are.”
At the beginning of this weird career arc, I felt lost. Even still, I knew I had made the right call to explore my passion—I had chosen the path of least regret. On some level, the result of my pursuit didn’t matter. Even though I started out with zero readers (apart from family and friends), a part of me didn’t really care if it worked out. I had no roadmap and had to figure stuff out along the way. And that was okay.
Hearing those words, “you’re not as lost as you think you are,” meant a lot to me—and I’ve thought about them every time I’ve felt lost since. Since that initial period of self-doubt, I’ve come to believe that the sensation of being lost is largely just a sign that I’m operating without a roadmap.
I take the feeling as a sign I need to do three things:
- Get resourceful
- Ask for help and guidance when I need it
- Overcome whatever obstacles are in front of me at the time
These three things help me plan my next steps with greater intention and purpose. In other words, they help plot a roadmap, however short, for what to do next.
They also help me connect with other likeminded people. In observing others following unconventional paths, I’ve come to believe that “success” is simply a reward for those who figure things out along the way.
You probably have periods in your life when you feel lost, doubt whether you’ve made the right call, or when you don’t know how you’re going to figure things out.
If you’re in such a situation, let me offer you the same valuable advice I received from my now-wife: you’re not as lost as you think you are.
Get resourceful, get help, get planning—and get to work. Your future self will thank you.