Having a purpose

Over the last two decades I’ve pushed myself in many ways in business; whether it’s writing seven novels, starting six podcasts, beginning several startups, building teams, honing my craft, reading voraciously, or testing out as many ideas as I could imagine to see what would stick. I’ve always felt the need to try something, to tinker, to play, to explore. Sometimes I look into something because I see a possibility to help pay the bills, but most often—and these ideas last longer—it’s with the intent of just learning and seeing what could happen. 

Now, for the first time in as long as I can remember, I’m looking toward the rest of the year, and into the year following, without a clear idea of what my next thing is. As a father, husband, and human-on-this-earth-needing-to-pay-the-bills I always look for a way to cover the basics; and through my career that’s been a combination of running my own service based business and at times working as an employee for a company. So, I’m covered and eternally grateful for the day job side of things at the moment. I’m stable on that front, or at least as stable as you can be in this crazy world of tech where things seem to shift in front of us every few months. But, with that said, I find myself uncertain where I want to go, what I want to do next, what I want to explore, where I want to tinker. 

It’s possible, and I’ve been considering this for a few weeks, that I’m merely in a funk related to the time of year. In the northern part of the United States it gets quite dreary in the winter. We can seamingly go months at a time without any real sun. It gets old. So I accept that’s a possibility. It’s hard to feel excitement and curiosity when you just feel tired. 

I’m also not immune to the possibility of burnout. Having gone through a major dip in that area years ago I’m aware of the signs; and thankfully been visiting a therapist on and off for a good while now. As a result, on that front I don’t see myself approaching that particular cliff. So I sit asking myself what it could be. Is it just that I haven’t thought of a great idea that excites me? Or is it something more? I’m aware of the various schools of thought on the pros and cons of goal setting. Sometimes they’ve helped me, and sometimes they haven’t. 

In the past I would have thought that I just need to push harder, work harder, grind through things. Now, at thirty-seven I’m less certain. I can’t just brute force things like I used to. I have to take an idea and fiddle with it, think through it, play various sides and—hopefully if I can figure this out better in the coming years—test it in front of people sooner than I’m want to do. So I’m trying to be as kind to myself as I would be to a friend. It’s too easy to say that I should just get off my back and go do something, it’s easy to think that I’m being lazy; but I know that’s not the case, and that’s not what I’d think for someone I cared for. Now I find myself wondering what else it could be, and frankly I’m coming up empty. 

It’s not like I’m doing nothing right now. I’m having fun with two podcasts weekly, also working on a third one that may or may not be on the bank burner. I’m also playing around with the idea of an app and a service based business model. That’s also not even to mention the energy I put out each day for mt day job, along with all that I’m learning in that arena for improving my skills as a designer. All these things coupled with my desire to understand people better; and frankly, it’s a lot. That’s nothing to say of my personal life, which is full and amazing and for which I’m eternally grateful. I have an amazing family who love me, fantastic friends who I get to hang out with often, and colleagues who are kind and caring. I have people in my life who impact me positively and for whom I hope I can do the same.

And so, maybe that’s enough. Maybe the thing I can do is be at peace and find calmness in the uncertainty, strength in not knowing what’s next, and being ok with that. And, in the meantime, in allowing my curiosity to delve into various arenas as my interest allows, I may find that next thing. 

This is where getting older, at least on most days, is exciting. I feel that every day I get to learn a little more about the world, how I work, how I can interact with people, and how I can help. Those things matter, and I find myself far more confident in who I am than even a few years ago.